By Ben Ganzfried
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” (Isaiah 40).
So begins the film, “Making the Crooked Straight,” (airing on April 14, on HBO2) which offers many examples of patients who Dr. Rick Hodes—a modern day Isaiah– has helped in Ethiopia. The movie provides powerful images and stories of Rick Hodes’ battle against disease, poverty, and despair. Told from the perspective of Dr. Hodes’ encounters with patients, “Making the Crooked Straight” shows how one man can have a tremendous impact on many lives.
The movie offers many poignant stories. From the many young kids that Rick Hodes adopted so he could put them on his health insurance plan, to his treatment of young kids with TB of the spine, to the interfaith Shabbat gathering that Hodes hosts in his home—the movie is rife with themes of tikkun olam, menschlakeit, and our shared common humanity.
The movie also addresses some of the important implications for today. For example, many thirteen-year old in America can easily raise enough money to save the life of a thirteen-year old in Ethiopia. It is a compelling story, and it is the conversations with the recently recovered as well as the ailing that reveal the true goodness of Dr. Hodes. This movie, in addition to being inspirational, is a persuasive reminder of what one person can achieve.