USA/2017/82mins/U/subs Dir: Joshua Z. Weinstein With: Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz
In the centre of New York’s ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community, Menashe - a kind, albeit hapless, grocery store clerk - is struggling through life in the aftermath of his wife Leah's death. Tradition requires that his son Rieven be raised in a house with a mother, so his late wife's strict brother adopts him, leaving Menashe heartbroken. But Menashe's rabbi allows him to keep Rieven at home with him for the week before Leah’s memorial, giving him a chance to prove himself a suitable man of faith and fatherhood, and restore respect among his doubters. Rather than suggesting that the Hasidim must adapt to Menashe, the film offers its protagonist a more realistic choice: He must either agree to conform or leave the culture to which he somewhat defiantly belongs. Shot in the Brooklyn's Hasidic Jewish community with winning, unself-conscious performances by a largely non-professional cast, this charming film is the first in seventy years to be performed entirely in Yiddish, offering a valuable and authentic insight into this most insular and private of worlds.