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    Yael Abecassis and Yoram Hattab as Rivka and Meir in Kadosh in Kadosh
    Yael Abecassis and Yoram Hattab as Rivka and Meir in Kadosh

    Not wholly holy

    "Kadosh" is an overwhelmingly emotional look into the tormented lives of two women in an Orthodox Jewish community.


    Around dawn, Meir wakes up, sits up in bed and immediately thanks God: "Thank you this day for rendering my soul to me. You are truly compassionate." While his wife Rivka sleeps serenely in the next bed, he methodically prepares for morning prayers, blessing each small act as he does it. Pointedly, he adds this standard prayer: "Blessed art thou, lord our God, who did not create me a woman."

    Directed by: Amos Gitai.
    Written by: Amos Gitai and Eliette Abecassis.
    Cast: Yael Abecassis, Yussuf Abu-Warda, Meital Barda, Yoram Hattab, Sami Hori, Uri Ran-Klausner.
    Cinematography: Renato Berta.
    In Hebrew with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    Here in one scene are my most and least favorite things about Judaism. Orthodox Jews pray over virtually everything they do, until spirituality is embedded in every breath they take. But they also say this prayer about women — the very line, in fact, that first alienated me from the faith at age 11 or so. It's a clear warning of what's to come in the film.

    "Kadosh" follows two sisters in an Orthodox community — one in a loving marriage that the rabbis and synagogue elders are trying to yank apart, the other about to be forced into a horrendous marriage that she doesn't want. Rivka and Meir share on often-tender relationship, but she has been unable to bear him a child, which is unforgivable to the elders. There's not only the biblical commandment "Be fruitful and multiply" to consider — there's the ultimate goal of defeating the infidel enemy. By the way, the infidel enemy in this case is not the Palestinians or the neighboring Arab countries; it's the non-Orthodox Jews who fail to run Israel to the liking of the Orthodox. In both their godly and their worldly pursuits, Rivka's feelings — even Meir's feelings, and even the stability of an established marriage — are immaterial.

    Meital Barda and Samy Hori as Malka and Yaakov in Kadosh in Kadosh  
    Meital Barda and Samy Hori as Malka and Yaakov in Kadosh
    Meanwhile, Rivka's little sister Malka is scheduled to marry an unappealing and mediocre scholar, although she insists that she won't go through with it. She's in love with Yaakov, a dark-skinned Middle Eastern Jew whom the rabbis consider not Jewish enough. Malka's fate is sometimes ridiculously funny when it isn't just appalling. In a conversation that's central to the whole film, the inexperienced girl asks her older sister what marriage will be like and yearns to hear about romance and passion, although she suspects she's heading to her doom in that area.

    "Kadosh" is an unforgettably emotional film, as the love between the lead characters becomes shot through with tension, guilt and jealousy. It's also a devastating look into the plight of wronged women in Orthodox Judaism — a subject that's just begun to be addressed within their community (whether in Israel or New York) and only occasionally become visible to the outer world.

    MARCH 3, 2000

    Reader comments on Kadosh:

  • Kadosh - doubts   from Littlebat, Sep 17, 2000
  • Any suggestions?   from Rolf Deen, Apr 1, 2001
  • Re: Any suggestions?   from Kelly Craigmile, Apr 23, 2001
  • Re: Any suggestions?   from nathalie, Jan 4, 2002
  • I loved Kadosh!!!   from Zannoah Chodosh, Nov 18, 2000
  • Re: I loved Kadosh!!!   from Silvia, Aug 4, 2008
  • Ending! (spoiler)   from Mimi, Feb 25, 2001
  • Re: Ending! (spoiler)   from roli, Mar 26, 2001
  • Re: Ending! (spoiler)   from nathalie, Jan 4, 2002
  • Re: Ending! (spoiler)   from jl, Feb 14, 2002
  • Re: Ending! (spoiler)   from dan, Sep 3, 2002
  • The message of "Kadosh"   from Chuck, Feb 25, 2001
  • unrealisitc, inaccurate, stereotypical   from Yoni, Aug 22, 2001
  • Re: unrealisitc, inaccurate, stereotypical   from Eduardo Mendez, Nov 24, 2003
  • Re: unrealisitc, inaccurate, stereotypical   from Yehuda, Mar 26, 2004
  • Re: unrealisitc, inaccurate, stereotypical   from patty, Dec 7, 2004
  • Re: unrealisitc, inaccurate, stereotypical   from Silvia, Aug 4, 2008
  • question on ending - spoilers   from bettyboop, Sep 17, 2001
  • Re: question on ending - spoilers   from Emily, May 8, 2002
  • spoiler--legs spread wide--spoiler   from george, Mar 15, 2004
  • Response from an orthodox woman   from Sorele, Nov 18, 2002
  • Re: Response from an orthodox woman   from Alice, May 4, 2003
  • Re: Response from an orthodox woman   from abigail, Jun 2, 2003
  • Re: Response from an orthodox woman   from Yoni, Jun 27, 2004
  • Was that supposed to be a mikvah?   from Chana, May 20, 2003
  • Re: Was that supposed to be a mikvah?   from Ruth, Dec 15, 2006
  • ending-spoiler   from Bronia, Jun 21, 2004
  • hated it!   from Madigan, Nov 7, 2007
  • great film   from David, Dec 27, 2008
  • Kadosh   from riane eisler, Mar 20, 2011

  • Post a comment on "Kadosh"