The Women's Balcony

This comic drama from Israel offers a rare glimpse of an Orthodox community in Jerusalem, whose relaxed form of traditional Judaism is losing ground to ultra-Orthodox fundamentalism. The beauty of Shlomit Nehama’s screenplay lies in its warmth and magnanimity: no one is demonized, not even the hard-line young rabbi (Aviv Alush) who gradually takes over a synagogue after its women’s balcony collapses, its elderly rabbi falls ill, and its congregation slips into disarray. The new rabbi soon marginalizes the female worshippers, triggering conflicts between spouses and friends that rapidly escalate. With an eye for artful detail, director Emil Ben-Shimon orchestrates a resolution both plausible and jubilant. In Hebrew with subtitles.