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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Reparation, Forgiveness, and Redemption in a Sukkoth Parable. Movie Review: Ushpizin

The Israeli film, Ushpizin (2004), has met with local and international critical acclaim. Despite its ultra-Judaic content, it remains popular with a wide audience. The story of an impoverished Hasidic couple who achieve their dreams as a result of Divine intervention (or a random directorial plot twist) captures the emotions of its viewers, irrespective of their religious leanings. The tale revolves around Jewish, Hassidic, and Kabbalistic symbols of Sukkoth (the Feast of Tabernacles), the Biblically inspired fall harvest festival. The unique rituals of the holiday, especially the custom of hosting ushpizin (honoredguests), are used to subtly, yet powerfully, convey feelings accompanying personal and historical generativity and development. Kabbalistic and psychoanalytic ideas, remarkably similar despite the longstanding tensions between the two doctrines, coincide to explicate a central theme of forgiveness and reparation. These approaches together yield a more cogent understanding of the films characters, plot, message, and, ultimately, universal appeal.