Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Family Tradition.....USHPIZIN

It's nice to have family traditions. I value the traditional traditions.....Thanksgiving, Passover, July 4th, and Opening Day. I especially like a few family traditions we have adopted:

Day after Thanksgiving leftover feast with friends.

New Years Eve at home with family, in "costumes".

Stony Brook Homecoming.

Watching the movie Groundhog Day on February 2nd, as previously blogged http://nylaw2law.blogspot.com/search/label/Groundhog%20Day

I made a new rule: If we do something three years in a row, it is now a "Family Tradition". Adding a new family tradition is momentous. It will continue. It is unimaginable to not do it. And so, every year, around Sukkot (for the uninitiated, or the interested http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukkot) we watch the Israeli movie Ushpizin, with family and friends.

If you have never seen this movie, here's the deal....

It's a 2004 Israeli movie, in Hebrew with English subtitles. It was written by a Hasidic actor (Shuli Rand), who also stars. The writer's actual wife was enlisted to play the movie wife (ostensibly because he could not have acted in this role with an "actress"). Michal Bat-Sheva Rand is the compelling force in this inspiring story.

Moshe and Malli live in a small apartment in a Hasidic section of Jerusalem. They are so poor they barely have food, let alone money for a Sukkah for the holiday. They are also childless. You see clearly that they have nothing, yet they have FAITH. Throughout this film, their faith is repeatedly tested, rewarded, pumished and retested. A series of circumstances allows them to obtain a Sukkah, and some money, and even some guests (Ushpizin). Ah, but such guests!! Some weekend furloughed prisoners who have skipped out, people from Moshe's past. What to do with a blessing of such guests? Rude, ungrateful, irreligious, disrespectful users. If you are sent such guests, is it a test?

Besides the characters and the story, I also enjoyed seeing people from a different culture (and trust me on this, Hasidic Jewish culture is a DIFFERENT culture than American, virtually non-practising, ethnic Jewish culture) having the same problems we all have. Financial issues, family crises, pressure on the holidays. This movie is a rare and fascinating look at a Hasidic couple as two people.

Does the movie eventually show the value in prayer and faith? Yes, and is there anything wrong with that? What does Moshe want more than anything else? To know the way. To know what is expected of him. To know that you can succeed, and fail, and be tested......and move forward.

You can probably rent this DVD at your local video store. It is surely a worthwhile Netflix pick. Or, if you want to wait till next Fall, you can watch it with us. It's a family tradition.

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