Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Cosmic X Goes To The Movies: Ushpizin

Our teenage son Moshe called home and said that the community center is screening the film "Ushpizin" at 9:00. He wants his parents to come with him to see it. "All of his friends saw it and they say that it is a good film," my wife said.

Well, the first and last film that I saw in Israel was "Conan the Barbarian" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982 at the Mughrabi theatre in Tel Aviv. That was before I was "religious." I was a tourist in Israel and my Tzabar Israeli cousin took me to see the film. The Mughrabi theatre, once a landmark in Tel Aviv, has since been razed. I have a few memories from that trip to the theatre. There was a sign informing the public that it is forbidden to eat seeds in the theatre. That was what Israelis ate in the theatre back then instead of popcorn. Was the theatre management afraid that the sunflower, pistachio, and/or pumpkin seed shells would end up on the floor, or were they were worried that the sound of all of the customers cracking open the seeds would drown out the soundtrack? Another thing I remember was that the film had Hebrew subtitles for those who did not understand English. There was one point in the film that was supposed to very serious and but the audience laughed their heads off. My guess was that the translation in the subtitles was incorrect and this is what caused the laughter.

That was, as I mentioned, the last time I was in a movie theatre in Israel. I do not know if they still eat seeds in the theatre and frankly I do not want to know. I was not too thrilled about the idea of seeing a movie, even if it was a Haredi movie, and even if it was being screened in the community center and not in a theatre. My wife must have read my thoughts so she said,"This is very important to Moshe. All of his friends in Yeshiva saw the movie and if he doesn't see it he'll feel that he's missing something."

So we went to see the movie. We arrived five minutes late and the community center was full of neighborhood residents who were already watching the film.
"I don't want to see the movie, we already missed part of it!" I informed my wife.
"Now is not the time to be a Yekke, this is important to your son!", my wife scolded me.

The movie was in Hebrew with English subtitles. I must say that I enjoyed the film. Too bad we missed the first five minutes! Here is a synopsis of the movie from
Jerusalem. Moshe and Mali, a poor childless Orthodox couple, find themselves penniless on the eve of the Jewish holy day of Succoth.
As they both pray desperately to the Lord to help them, the impossible happens. Their prayers are heard and they receive an unexpected charitable donation. However, a miracle doesn't come without a test, as two escaped convicts appear uninvited on the couple's doorstep, friends from Moshe's shady secular past.
Moshe and Mali believe it is another sign and that God will bless them with children if they follow the religious custom of receiving guests for the holy day (Ushpizin). They perceive the convicts as messengers, but God works in mysterious ways. The outrageous behavior of these unholy messengers and the havoc it brings to the Orthodox community will put Moshe and Mali's faith to the ultimate test.

I won't add anything else in order not to spoil the movie for those that have not seen it. All in all Ushpizin is a fine film. If you have to see a movie than it might as well be this one. By the way, I did not see anybody eating seeds.

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