Israel at the Movies – Film Guide

Israel at the Movies:
Your Guide to 8 Israeli Films

Which film is best suited to my use?

The movies covered in this guide range from feature film to documentary and from historical classic to blockbuster hit, but each was selected as a quality film with artistic merit above and beyond its educational value. Here you will find brief synopses of the movies, organized by the guide’s four unit themes using the navigation below.

Outsiders & Integration into Society | Jewish-Arab Relations |
Religion in Israeli Society | Interpersonal Relationships

Unit 1: Outsiders and Integration into Israeli Society
“Sallah” and “James’ Journey to Jerusalem”

“Sallah”

Appropriate for: children (middle school or older) and adults alike
About the Movie: A classic social satire of kibbutzniks, Sephardi Jews, and wealthy American tourists alike. On a deeper level, the film examines social implications of the unprecedented numbers of predominantly Sephardi immigrants who flooded into Israel during the early days of its statehood. By following Sallah and his large family as they navigate through Israeli bureaucracy and adjust to their new lives in the Promised Land, the movie dramatizes the growing pains inherent in Israel’s process of moving from an idealistic concept to a working reality—a process Israel still struggles with to this day.
Use This Movie to Explore:
Cinema
| Social satire in Israeli film
History | Absorption process for new immigrants in the early days of Israel’s Kibbutz movement
Culture | Cultural differences between Ashkenazi/Sephardi Jews

“James’ Journey to Jerusalem”

Appropriate for: children (middle school or older) and adults alike
About the Movie: In this tale of a modern-day pilgrimage to Israel gone awry, James, an African Christian, journeys from worship of a far-off, idealistic land to immersion in modern-day Israeli society. After being mistakenly imprisoned and just as mistakenly released, James finds himself as an illegal worker, performing low-wage labor cleaning houses. James has a unique perspective as an “outsider” who is suddenly confronted with concepts such as capitalism, with all its advantages and dangers. This movie also features the reappearance of Sallah (from the previous movie, Sallah) as an old man acting as James’ mentor, adding a creative element of cinematic continuity and also providing the opportunity for social commentary about the progress of Israeli society.
Use This Movie to Explore:
Cinema
| Social satire in Israeli film
History | Absorption process for new immigrants in the early days of Israel’s Kibbutz movement
Culture | Cultural differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews