B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will present a screening of “Ushpizin,” a warm comedy-drama that provides a touching and unique look at the daily lives of ultra-Orthodox Jews as they question and explore their faith.
“Ushpizin” will be shown Saturday, November 12, at 7:30 p.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York. Refreshments will be available. Suggested contribution: $5.
Breaking the barriers between cultures, “Ushpizin” (which translates roughly to “The Guests”) holds a universal and human appeal that transcends any religion or belief. Writer and actor Shuli Rand, winner of the Israeli Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor and the Best Actor Award from the Israeli Film Academy, stars with his real-life wife, Michal Bat Sheva Rand, as husband and wife whose love is tested and faith is challenged when a secret from the past reveals itself during Sukkot, the Jewish festival of the harvest.
Moshe (Shuli Rand) was once a secular Jew, but he rediscovered his faith and became an ultra-Orthodox Jew, and with his wife, Mali (Michal Bat Sheva Rand), he struggles to support their family. Sukkot is around the corner, and Moshe and Mali are broke and left with no options but to pray for a miracle. To their surprise, the next day $1,000 mysteriously arrives from the yeshiva next door; Moshe and Mali believe this is the miracle they asked for, and they joyously make plans to build a sukkah in which to eat and celebrate. Just as he completes it, Moshe is surprised by the unexpected arrival of Eliahu (Shaul Mizrahi) and Yosef (Ilan Gannai), two old friends from his restless days before he embraced his current faith. Moshe imagines the guests are part of the miracle; what he doesn’t know is that the two are on the run from the law, having recently escaped from jail.
Directed by Gidi Dar, the 91-minute film is in Hebrew with English subtitles. It is rated PG, suitable for family viewing.
“Ushpizin” marks the first film made by members of the Breslav Israeli ultra-Orthodox in collaboration with secular filmmakers. The film was scripted by leading man Rand, who is in real life an ultra-Orthodox Jew and demanded a number of conditions before agreeing to participate in the making of the film, such as the producers agreeing to never show the picture on the Sabbath.