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In Jerusalem's orthodox neighborhoods, it's Succoth, seven days celebrating life's essentials in a sukkah, a temporary shack of both deprivation and hospitality. A devout couple, Moshe and Mali, married nearly five years and childless, are broke and praying for a miracle. Suddenly, miracles abound: a friend finds Moshe a sukkah he says is abandoned, Moshe is the beneficiary of local charitable fundraising, and two escaped convicts arrive on Moshe and Mali's doorstep in time to be their ushpizin - their guests. The miracles then become trials. Rabbinical advice, absolution, an effort to avoid anger, and a 1000-shekel citron figure in Moshe's dark night of the soul. Written by
Shuli Rand retired from acting after becoming religious. He returned to acting just to make this film. See more »
They worked out of luck, out of hope. And faith was all they had to hang on to. But on this holy week, where guests are considered a blessing, these two unexpected visitors bring with them: a secret from the past. A secret that would test their love and challenge their faith. Now only a miracle will turn their fortune around.
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Ushpizin is about a "chozer b'tshuva" (recently religious) Jerusalem couple whose faith is tested repeatedly during the Succot holiday. Will their faith hold as the tests get harder and harder? Will G-d send them the miracles they need? Familiar references spring to mind, from the biblical story of Avraham and Sarah, to traditional tales of shtetl life, to the stories of S.Y. Agnon. Yet the contemporary context makes it a highly original work. The film manages to retain and build dramatic tension. It successfully portrays strong emotions including anger, frustration, love, gratitude, and faith without becoming overly sentimental.
The main couple is played by actors who are married in real life and also religious in real life (he wrote the script). Their love, clearly visible, is one of the nicest parts of the story.
The criminals who come to stay as guests during the holiday ("Ushpizin" in Hebrew) are a bit too cartooned at times, but are not all bad.
It's nice to see a Jerusalem that really exists: a place of material poverty but spiritual wealth, home to an imperfect but caring community that finds meaning in the fulfillment of mitzvahs (commandments).
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