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Plot[ edit ] Shira Mendelman, an year-old Hasidic girl living in Tel Aviv, is looking forward to an arranged marriage with a young man whom she likes. However, on Purimher family suffers a tragedy when Shira's older sister Esther dies in childbirth. Shira's father subsequently delays the engagement so as not to have to deal with an empty house so soon after Esther's death.
Esther's husband, Yochay, begins to regularly bring their son, Mordechai, to the Mendelman's house, where Shira cares for him. One day, Yochay's mother approaches Shira's mother, Rivka, about the possibility of Yochay remarrying, believing it to be best for Mordechai.
She plans to suggest an offer from a widow in Belgium. Rivka critical writing art reviews los angeles distraught by the idea of Mordechai being taken out of the country and suggests that Yochay marry Shira instead.
He and Shira both initially oppose the prospect, though he eventually warms to it and she agrees to take it into consideration on learning that her previous engagement has been called off due to her father's delays. Shortly afterwards, Frieda, a friend of Esther who has never received any marriage proposals, tells Shira that Esther would have preferred that Yochay marry her in the event of her death.
As a result, Shira tells Yochay that Frieda is more suitable, which he takes as an affront. Shira and Yochay remain distant from one another afterwards, and he announces that he plans to move with Mordechai to marry the widow in Belgium.
Shira, pressured by her family, agrees to go forward with the engagement to Yochay, believing it to be the best scenario for everyone. However, the rabbi realizes that Shira is acting to please her family and refuses to condone the marriage.
Time passes, and Shira eventually grows to love Yochay of her own accord. She approaches the rabbi and asks again that she and Yochay be married, and he agrees this time. The film closes with their wedding.
As a people we are thousands of years old and we exist without that conflict of the secular and the religious. The truth is that most of us do not want to leave our communities. All of those films were always about someone either trying to get out or someone from the outside trying to get in and it was very important for me to say that we also just exist and feel and love and struggle and hurt by ourselves, not always because we're in conflict.
She's romantic, intelligent, and full of humor. The characters are not looking for some way to burst out of that world. Instead, they are trying to find a way to live within it.
In order to become better acquainted with Shira's lifestyle, she started memorizing all of the Hebrew blessingssaying, "There's something so beautiful about it because you're being so grateful all the time for everything you do and hoping that everything works out okay and I started doing those blessings every day and it sounds silly but it helps you feel that you are closer to the character.
Burshtein remarked that Klein "is a big star in Israel, and has played a pimp, a homosexual, and a cop among many other rolesso I was not sure you could really believe him as this Orthodox guy.
But his audition, and then his chemistry with Hadas were just perfect".
But among the main actors, only the rabbi and the matchmaker are religious, all the rest are secular professional actors. As most of the main cast was not from the Orthodox community, Burshtein instructed them to attend all of the major events that take place within the film, including a wedding and a circumcision.
So it was really helpful to experience all these things and to see how it is and to feel a part of it actually. She hoped to keep the relationship between Yochay and Shira enigmatic, with a strong undercurrent of tension, throughout the film.
She explained, "That's how we see the enigma—the power of wanting and then restraining. The restraining is the power.
The passion cannot exist if you have it all the time—the passion is only for something that you don't have. You have to work to keep the passion. Judaism is all about that. It was like rrrrrrnnnnngh [as I tried to play], I was faking the melody and it was ugly, very weird stuff.
It took a while because at the beginning, I was very aware of playing this horrible melody, if you could call it a melody, and I knew I had to feel something.
It took a few takes because I thought, 'oh, how could [the crew] listen to that? There isn't a moment when Burshtein goes wrong, goes melodramatic, goes didactic, goes false. Working as a woman of faith in a medium looked on with understandable suspicion and skepticism by those who believe as she does, Rama Burshtein has made a work of art of overwhelming beauty and impact.
Too often Burshtein cuts off a scene prematurely, darting away just as the crucial moment of emotion or confrontation appears.
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