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Ushpizin

Ushpizin

For the ushpizzin custom of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, see Sukkah → Ushpizzin
The Guests (Hebrew title: Ha-Ushpizin, האושפיזין) is a 2005 Israeli film directed by Gidi Dar.

Tagline: When you really need a miracle... Moshe and Mali Bellanga are an impoverished, childless, Hasidic baal teshuva ("returnees to Judaism") couple in the Breslov community in Jerusalem. They cannot pay their bills, after Moshe is passed over for a stipend he expected, much less prepare for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Moshe admires a particularly beautiful etrog, or citron, one of the four species required for the holiday observance. They console themselves by recalling a saying of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov that difficult times are a test of faith. After some anguished prayer, they receive an unexpected gift that solves their financial problems on the eve of the holiday and Moshe buys the etrog for 1000 shekels (about U.S. $223 in 2004). But then they are visited by a pair of escaped convicts, one of whom knew Moshe in his earlier, non-religious life. The convicts become their guests (ushpizin) in the sukkah, creating many conflicts and straining Moshe and Mali's relationship.

Cast

Locations

While a few scenes were shot in ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, the majority of the film was made in two locations: the Schneller Orphanage (representing the courtyard in which Moshe and Malli live) and Jerusalem's Nahlaot neighbourhood. Several streets in Nahlaot feature frequently in the film: Rama Street (where Ben-Baruch meets Moshe and offers him the Sukkah, and where Moshe and Malli part), Zichron Tuvyah (where Moshe's Yeshiva is located) and Tavor Street, while others appear less frequently or even in single shots. The stone buildings of Nahlaot provide a convincing substitute for the Shmuel Hanavi area, though occasional landmarks (such as the Wolfson Towers or Yad Labanim monument) sometimes reveal the true locations.

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