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Ushpizin: Jewish Film Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Aug 6th, 2019


The film is a depiction of what it means to have unshakable Jewish faith. The two protagonists face so many tribulations, but stay true to their religious beliefs. An outsider may misinterpret their actions as naive; however, Jewish believers would find their behavior quite exemplary.

The film

This is a Jewish film owing to the title, language, setting, themes and even the actors involved in the film. In my view, a movie becomes Jewish when it is intended for Jewish audiences. The subject matter should be about the faith; the actors ought to be Jewish or should at least portray Jewish characters. Furthermore, it should possess elements that reflect the Jewish lifestyle such as Jewish foods, clothing, and locations.

First, the film is entitled Ushpizin; an Aramaic word for guests. In Jewish tradition, one should invite guests during a seven-day festival known as Sukkot (Ross 109). This tradition is designed to propagate unity and selfless acts among the Jewish population. The film’s main actor and actress are quite anxious about their lack of money. This status prevents them from building a sukkah (a tent that hosts guest in the festival).

Furthermore, they lack the money that is needed in order to purchase food for their guests. The level of concern that they have for the Sukkot festival is indicative of their commitment to their faith (Holden 3).

One should realize that Malli and Moshe were husband and wife in real life. This choice indicates the conservative values of stakeholders in the film. Orthodox Jews are not allowed to act alongside women who were not their wives (Paris 15).

The film is also Jewish because of the language and settings used. The speakers use Hebrew throughout the movie. Furthermore, the movie is set in a classic Jewish society; Jerusalem, Israel. In some scenes, one can view landmark buildings like Yad Labanim and Wolfson Towers. The appearance of Haredi neighborhoods also indicates the Jewish nature of this film. Their poverty stems from their social and economic environment.

In fact, it is quite admirable that the couple spends $300 dollars on a citron (lemon-like fruit) for the festival. This was clearly a sum that they could not afford given their particular circumstances. If their faith was shaky, they would have chosen to set aside the $1000 they got from well wishers for a rainy day.

However, they decided to dedicate that money towards the festival. Even when the Ushpizin cut up the citron, the couple responds quite gracefully towards them. This is quite admirable because the citron was supposed to facilitate the birth of their first born. The unruly guests undermine this goal, but get no reprieve for their actions.

The Jewish nature of the movie can also be depicted through the use of themes and actors. This film essentially espouses the importance of religious devotions. Moshe and Malli find solace in their religion even when circumstances seem hopeless. They pray when they have no money for the festival; they pray when they receive guests and even pray when the guests act wildly.

This wife and husband have an amazing ability to look for positive elements in any situations. For instance, after the guests play pop music, drink and smoke in their house, they continue to entertain them. Eventually, the Ushpizin come back.

The couple decides to treat their return as a test from God. They assert that their reward awaits them at the end of their lives. This unexpected response demonstrates their spiritual commitment. Such a theme relates to others learnt in class concerning temptation and religious devotion.

Works Cited

Holden, Stephen. “Guess who is coming for Sukkot? Unbelievers.” New York Times. New York Times, 19 Oct. 2005. Web.

Paris, Dov. A conversation with Shuli and Michal Rand. Jewish Action, Orthodox Union, 2006. Web..

Ross, Lesli. Celebrate! The Complete Jewish Holidays Handbook. London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1994. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Ushpizin: Jewish Film." August 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ushpizin-film/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Ushpizin: Jewish Film." August 6, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/ushpizin-film/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Ushpizin: Jewish Film'. 6 August.

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