Menashe Lustig, Yoel Falkowitz, Ruben Niborski
Documentary filmmaker Joshua Z. Weinstein makes the transition to narrative features with this remarkable, delicate and critically acclaimed account of an ultra-orthodox Jewish widower trying to maintain custody of his son.
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.
Shot covertly 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 roughly seventy years to be performed entirely in Yiddish, offering a valuable and authentic insight into this most insular and private of worlds.