‘Fill the Void’ with Hasidic Dream Men

Park your Jewish feminist preconceptions at the door of this Israeli “insider film” on life within the world of Tel Aviv Hasidim.

“Fill the Void” (“Lemale et ha’Chalal”) made its U.S. premiere in October at the 50th New York Film Festival, following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, where lead actress Hadas Yaron received Best Actress award. This is the story of a young Hasidic woman pressured to marry her brother-in-law after her sister dies in childbirth.

Don’t expect the bitter tale of a teen-ager whose dreams and youth are sacrificed to an ultra-Orthodox society in need of childcare. This first feature film written and directed by 45-year-old Rama Burshtein, a happily Hasidic New York-born Israeli, is gentle, sweet and totally self-contained. The outside world remains outside the close-knit community of well-dressed Hassids with international connections. Clothed in the time warp of a vanished East European Jewry, the men wear white knee socks, silken holiday robes that anywhere else would be luxe bathrobes, and shtreimels (fur hats) the size of lampshades. The wives cover their heads with stylish turbans – silk wrappings in faux leopard prints. But the feeling is anything but antique; this is an observant way of life that’s alive and well.

One comment on “‘Fill the Void’ with Hasidic Dream Men

  1. Rrlieberma on

    Amy, I always enjoy what you write and often agree, but not on this time.  I came away from the film feeling that I had just watched a fairly slick, manipulative piece of propaganda which, while purporting to show a glimpse of Hasidic life, falsely showed a mostly kind, wonderful and thoughtful  Hasidic world. 
    The wealth and apparent ease of life of this family and their community also distorts the grinding poverty that most Hasidic families face, all too often taking from the state and relying on the largess of people like the rabbi – conditions which confirm that they and their ever-growing families will remain impoverished and dependent for years if not generations.  The reality is anything but “a lovely Hasidic tale”…
    Sorry – just my POV.Hope all is well. Best,Ricki Lieberman

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