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Go See "Ushpizin"

movie posterFor the last couple of weeks, people here in Boston have been talking about this amazing new Israeli film, "Ushpizin." Here's the thing. It really is an amazing movie.

It's hard to describe. It's a fable. It could be a movie about faith, or about the foolishness of faith. But the people, ultra-Orthodox (haredi) and secular; straight and criminal, are so real—these are the next generation of the street gang folks I worked with 30 years ago, and of the religious folks I knew in Meah Shearim and Geula. It is also the rare movie that treats the haredim as secular, complex people. Some of their foibles and parts of their life style seems open to satire. But they you keep experiencing real people inside that community and realize that there is more to know before you laugh "at."

All of which is to say that this is a very, very complex simple movie. Or, a simple movie that is also very, very complex. Or, it should be enough to say, "there is something here, an Israeli movie made by a secular director, starring a haredi actor and the actor's wife (not a professional actress—but someone who delivers the stunning performance of the movie). There are scenes that I am afraid to describe for fear of giving away the movie, but they are so very, very funny, or moving, or amazing. You will never think of miracles quite the same way. Or you will.

Typifying all of this ambiguity is the sound track. A gravelly voice person chants familiar Jewish prayers in a way that could be taken as satire, or as a perfect soundtrack to the modern haredi life. The voice reminds me of Yankele Rothblit, on his first solo album, as on the song making fun of the Israeli knesset. On my notes I wrote the artist's name as עדי כן or עדי רן. If anyone knows more about the singer, please to post!


I just love this movie.

The name of the singer is Avri Ran.



The singer's name is Adi Ran. Ran is a Breslover chassid and much of his music reflects Breslover philosophy and texts. I recorded an arrangement of one of his songs "Ata Kadosh" which I have posted on my website on this page, http://jewishmusician.com/livemusic/audio.html

I picked up his CD's in Israel. As far as I know, he has three albums out. The first, "Ha'acharon Sheba'am", is the one "Ata Kadosh" and "Yesh Hakadosh Baruch Hu" (the songs in the film) are off of. His second album is called "Al Take Basela" and his third is "Ma Yesh Lachem Lidog."

i picked up the movie in a video store on a whim the other day and loved it. actually, as soon as it was over, i put it back on again. i know relatively little about this sect of judaism, but the characters seemed to be played incredibly well and ... well, it's just a good story. patience, kindness, humility ... for whatever reason you practice them, they're good traits. plus, one-third of the way into the movie is a great little klezmer/gypsy number that is so catchy that it makes me want to watch it again.

Thanks! It does seem to be a very special movie. We may purchase a copy just to show it to friends.

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