The film opens with the camera on an intercom baby monitor, with a button for each nursery alongside its name. The buttons are flashing as we hear babies wailing. This is the communal child care in a mid-1970s kibbutz.
Linda, a young European volunteer is directed to the home of 12yo Dvir, his brother, 18yo Eyal, and their mother, Miri, who is mentally ill. Eyal shows Linda to her quarters while trying to hit on her. Throughout the story, Eyal tries to show Dvir how to "be a man".
Miri is a widow and her only "family" on the kibbutz are her rigid, uncomassionate mother-in-law and her father-in-law. During the past year, while on R&R at the beach, Miri fell in love with a Swiss tourist, who is coming to visit.
It's Dvir's bar mitzva year, when he, together with his classmates, is assigned to carry out tasks in the community to prove that they're ready to join the adults in their endeavors. We see the kids doing the tasks, some of which are chores such as a pair of girls staying up all night to attend to the baby monitor, and others being done by the class together, which amount to hazing. Through it all, we observe that Dvir, being Miri's son, is an outcast.
12yo Maya arrives from France to join the group. We see that as soon as she's introduced to her class, her watch is removed from her wrist as the teacher explains dispassionately, "All the kids will get watches next year, at the same time. No watches before that."
Stephan, Miri's boyfriend, arrives to visit, perhaps checking out whether he'd like to move in with Miri, bearing gifts for each family member. Instead of thanking him, Miri's mother-in-law expresses overt disapproval, as the gifts fall outside the community's rigid norms concerning material goods and ownership.
In the dining hall, when a member begins to play a song on the piano in the traditional pre-Sabbath ceremony, Stephan escorts Miri to the aisle and begins to dance with her. Several younger couples join him in this never-before-seen spectacle, which garners the members' disapproval as deviating from the accepted order of things.
At the bar mitzva ceremony, a member disrupts to publicly reprimand Dvir, blaming Dvir for not keeping his dog chained up while the member's dog was in heat. When no one steps in to defend Dvir, Stephan, a judo champion, rushes in and punches the member, garnering condemnation from the community and resulting in Stephan's expulsion. The only light in Miri's life has been snuffed out.
Dvir and Maya are scene running away together, through the kibbutz fields. The final shot is of the unfinished puzzle that Stephan had brought Dvir.