Kadosh (sacred in hebrew) examines the treatment of women in the ultra-orthodox jewish community community in the mea shearim neighborhood of jerusalem. It is the controversial & deeply disturbing story of 2 sisters chafin... more »g under the restricions of their religious leaders. Studio: Kino International Release Date: 09/10/2002 Run time: 116 minutes Director: Amos Gitai« less
A rare glimpse into the world of Orthodox Jewry in Isreal
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 02/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an Israeli film that deals with the forbidden subject of ultra-orthodox Jewry. Filmed with excruciating attention to detail, the daily rituals and total immersion in the faith are deeply explored.The word "Kadosh" means sacred and this film is basically the love stories of two sisters who are trapped in this very constricting world. Rifka, the older sister, is sweetly in love with her husband of ten years. There is deep and gentle feeling between them and they take joy in each other. Problem is, they have no children, and according to Orthodox law, the husband must take another wife. Malka, the younger sister, cannot marry the former soldier and guitar player who she loves because he has left the community. She becomes the victim of an arranged marriage to a brutal over-zealous fundamentalist who I can only characterize as a religious nut-job. The wedding night is horrendous and depicted with startling detail and I found myself crying. I saw this film in a theater, and when I glanced at the woman sitting next to me, she was crying too.The writer and director, Amos Gitai, is a secular Israeli and is clearly depicting Orthodox Jews in a negative way. I wish the film would be more balanced. Surely, there are people who live that way without the sad unhappiness that permeates this film. Several years ago I read a novel called "The Romance Reader" by Pearl Abraham. It, too, was about the restrictions imposed in her small Hasidic community. However, not everyone saw the restrictions the same way, and there was a lot of love and caring in the community.Most of this film was shot indoors, in apartments and synagogues with crumbling walls. I wondered if there was even plumbing in the buildings. Other scenes showed the crowded winding streets of Jerusalem packed with traffic. Some of the scenes were also a little too long for my taste. But the director certainly did capture the anguish of these two women as they struggled in their own ways to deal with their lives.The atmosphere throughout is sad and morose but I do recommend this video. The public knows little, or nothing, about this particular world; this film provides rare glimpse of it."
Actors try, but director's simpleminded attack on Orthodox
N. Caine | Los Angeles, CA | 05/08/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD interviews are extremely revealing. The actors (themselves secular Israelis) love the challenge of playing fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox Jews and manage to convey a true pathos for the characters and their lives. Their attempt to find beauty and integrity in the characters, and their sympathetic portrayals, are admirable but paradoxical, because the script is stacked against this attempt. The writer/director makes clear in his dvd interview: Orthodox Judaism and the Talmud are, according to him, clearly out to debase women. He chooses the most anti-woman quotations from the Talmud (certainly using a search engine) and composes a plot and shallow fundamentalists to mouthe the lines. In the interview, he claims all monotheistic religions are by nature anti-woman [unlike the Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, Egyptians,... ???] and that fundamentalists are people too shallow "to experience spirituality in the world without ritual" as he does. He admits making the film as an attack on the religious right in Israel.In sum, the actors' sensitive portrayals make the first half of the film truly interesting, but the second half is all contrived preachiness, ruining what could have been a balanced critique and portrayal of women in this culture."
Moominoid | Upstate NY United States | 12/11/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I grew up in modern orthodox judaism in England and studied at an ultraorthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem close to where the movie was set, have ultraorthodox relatives etc. but am now secular myself. A lot of the ritual aspects of the movie especially the scenes in the synagogue/yeshiva were inaccurate. I couldn't determine if they were Sephardi (Middle Eastern Jews) or Ashkenazi (European Jews) - some bizarre mix in the middle - Meah She'arim is a primarily Ashkenazi neighborhood. The wedding was the most bizarre... . Perhaps the producers were short of money to hire extras. The whole feel was very unrealistic as a result.
To an outsider a lot of the context wouldn't be clear as can be seen from some of the other commentaries here. The overall themes though if more contextualized aren't totally out of place at all, though I know it is an anti-Orthodox movie, but these are important issues. However, the end result is really messed up and detracts from getting the message across."
What is "sacred"?
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 10/05/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are some thoughtful and well-written reviews both at Amazon and the IMDb and elsewhere in which it is claimed that the type of Jewish Orthodoxy presented here is not accurate. There are quibbles about the unnatural way that Meir puts on his garments. There is criticism of the selection of prayers recited, especially Meir giving thanks that he was not born a woman. Moreover, there is the assertion that orthodox Judaism does NOT require that a man repudiate his wife after ten years of marriage even though she may be barren. Furthermore, the character of Yossef is said not to be typical of orthodox Jewish men since he takes his wife sexually without love or tenderness, that he hits her when angry, and goes about the streets of Israel with a loudspeaker hawking his religious point of view.
First, it is a shame (if true) that the way Meir dressed and recited his morning prayers was inaccurate, because such details can easily be made accurate with some research. Certainly director Amos Gitai had access to many orthodox people who could have helped him. Putting that aside, the artistic point of the opening scene was to immerse the viewer into a world based on religious beliefs and practices that are strikingly different from the secular world of today. He also wanted to introduce his theme, which is that women in Orthodox Judaism, as in the other two great religions of the Middle East, in their fundamentalist interpretations--this bears repeating: in their fundamentalist interpretations--are not on an equal level with men. Certainly in a realistic sense, Meir, since he dearly loves his wife, would have chosen something else to recite. However, I think we can give Gitai some artistic license here. The fact that such a prayer exits in the Jewish canon is not to be denied.
Second, the film does NOT claim that Orthodox Judaism requires that a man repudiate his wife after ten years of childless marriage. Instead it makes the very strong point that, from the point of view of Orthodox Judaism, such a woman is not fulfilling her role in society, and that there will be people outside the marriage who will try to persuade him to abandon her. Gitai's screenplay contains several textual pronouncements to that effect. The fact that Meir is torn between his love for his wife and his love for his religion is really the point. How he resolves that dilemma is an individual choice, and that is what the film shows.
As for the unflattering character of Yossef, whom Rivka's sister Malka is persuaded to marry (not forced, mind you, but persuaded) he is a foil and a counterpoint for the loving and deeply religious Meir. The fact that he is not a poster boy for Orthodox Judaism is not a valid criticism of the film, since all religions have their black sheep.
I think a fairer criticism of the film can be made by addressing the question of, was it entertaining and/or a work of art?
Here I have mixed feelings. Certainly the acting was excellent, and the theme a worthy one. Gitai's desire to show the underlying similarities among the conservative expressions of all three Abrahamic religions, through their shared patriarchal attitudes toward women and their estrangement from the postmodern world, was very well taken and appropriate. Where I think Gitai failed as film maker is in his inability to be completely fair to the orthodox way of life--his failure to show the joys as well as the sorrows of its everyday life which would help outsiders to understand why people adhere to such a way of life.
I also think that the film could have been better edited. In the documentary about how the film was made we see scenes that were cut that I think should have been retained, especially the scene in which the omelette was made and the scene in which the mother critiques the life choices her three daughters have made. Instead we have some scenes that ran too long. It is a fine technique that Gitai sometimes employs of letting the silence speak for the characters, of holding the camera on the scene to allow the audience to reflect and then to reflect again. However, I think this can be overdone and was overdone, and that judicious cutting of some of the scenes would have strengthened the movie.
Bottom line: a slow polemic of a movie that nonetheless is worth seeing because of the importance and timeliness of its theme, the originality of some of the techniques, and the fine acting, especially by Yael Abecassis who played Rivka and Meital Barda who played Malka.
One more point: yellow subtitles, please!"
It rings a false and unhappy note.
MSCOMMERCE | Singapore | 03/16/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I do not know any ultra-orthodox Jews (I'm not even Jewish, but Hindu) but this portrayal rings false to a neutral observer. It is easy for secular minded types, who are unacquainted with deeply pious or religious societies to end up believing that life within them is repressed, unhappy in tone, and generally unfulfilling in any authentic way.
Do Haredi not smile in their weddings? Are no families, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins who populate everyday life and bring laughter, anger, gossip and chatter and noise? Is life so solitary and non-communal in such a closed society? What's the big deal with religious rituals, anyway? We all have our own rituals, secular or otherwise, from saying "good morning" to strangers to hitting the gym during the lunch hour, or wearing a suit to work.
It seems the movie maker has an axe to grind. Starting from a liberal viewpoint, he ends up with the most slanted, intolerant portrait possible of a pious, ritualistic community, dehumanizing them and thus forgetting liberal humanism's most basic attitudes which are a) a tolerance for other people and their customs, and b) an understanding that people are simply people, no matter what rituals they may observe or whatever forms their societies may take."