The enactment of an age-old Jewish religious ritual leads to a long-overdue question, a family confrontation and finally a search for identity and belonging.

The Quest for The Missing Piece

After being present at his nephew’s brith (ritual circumcision), Oded Lotan is suddenly struck by a need to understand why his parents inflicted the same process on him. Bridging the topic with his parents, Lotan flares up over the issue – and then lets it drop. Years later, however, while Lotan is staying in Germany, the topic comes up for discussion. An acquaintance asks Lotan: “What did they do with the missing piece?” The question takes Lotan on a quest for identity and personal belonging.

Director’s statement The Quest for The Missing Piece 2007

On July 21st, 1994, the ritual of circumcision, known as a “Brith,” was performed on the first Lotan grandson. Until that day, despite my life-long, intimate acquaintance with the end product of that same ritual, I had never given it much thought. On that hot summer’s day, waiting for the knife to cut through the air, with the increasing wails of the infant thickening the atmosphere, my sister-in-law in shock and horror etched on my brother’s face, a simple fact suddenly became very clear to me: “This is all going to end in tears.”

On the way back in the car with my parents, appalled by the sights I’d witnessed, I could hold back no longer and dropped a bomb on the old folks by asking the unaskable: “Can you please explain how you could have done such a terrible thing to me?” My parents admitted that my Brith had been one of the less pleasurable events of their lifetime (and mine) but argued that, in their defence, “one has simply to get through it” and that, anyway, “everybody does it.” An argument to which I angrily reacted: “And that’s a good enough reason to take a knife to your child?!”

The years rolled by until one day, during my stay in Germany, and despite the genteelness and discretion of Europeans, the topic came up in discussion. At the end of the discussion, half in innocence and half in jest, one of the guys present posed an unexpected question to me:

“What did they do with the piece that was cut off?”

This funny, naive question caused me to embark upon a journey – a journey which soon transformed into a search for personal identity and belonging. A quest for the missing piece…