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Posts Tagged ‘Joshua Z. Weinstein’

Menashe Lustig

“MENASHE” My rating: B

82 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

It takes a while to get a handle on Menashe (Menashe Luskin), the hapless, rotund Hasidic grocery clerk at the center of documentarian Joshua Z. Weinstein’s first foray into fictional filmmaking.

Ruddy cheeked, balding and bearded, Menashe is like a clumsy, disheveled dancing bear. He’s got plenty to do at the tiny shop where he works in Brooklyn’s Borough Park — carrying crates, mopping floors, helping customers — but he’ll ignore his duties in a heartbeat if he spies an opportunity for a philosophical discussion on some obscure point of religious practice. His employer is perennially exasperated.

Menashe wants more than anything to live the life of a good, pious Jew, but fate conspires against him. His wife Leah recently passed after a long illness, and his rabbi has ruled that Menashe’s son Rieven (Ruben Niborski) must live with his holier-than-thou brother-in-law Eizik (Yiel Weisshaus). Tradition maintains that a child must be reared by a mother.

Remarriage isn’t likely. Menashe and his late wife did not get along and he much prefers the life of an ascetic bachelor. A coffee date with an eligible widow is a disaster; it ends with her eye-rolling diss of Hasidic men: “Your mothers spoil you; then your wives take over.”

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