From Mar ’06 Spotlight: Shuli and Mali Rand, stars in the new Israeli film Ushpizin, will be here on March 26 to show a short film on the making of Ushpizin and then take questions from the audience.

When he came to Chicago last fall, I asked Ushpizin director Gidi Dar to describe his goals. “There is a big conflict in the whole world now, not just the Jewish world, between liberalism and fundamentalism,” he said. “It’s a war between two contradicting points of view. The Israeli ‘seculars’ have specific political problems with ultra-Orthodox people: ‘They don’t go to the army, they don’t do this, they don’t do that…’ But I believe this is superficial; I believe the deeper reasons lie somewhere in the beginnings of Zionism.”

“The big desire in Zionism is to become normal,” he continued. “Zionism is about muscles: warriors working the land. But we’re not normal no matter what, and it’s very abnormal to want us to be normal. Look at how we built this country [Israel]. There is no precedent for this! People from all over the world decide that this is their one nation, and they build, in 50 years, this country, but at the same time they try to kill its history.”

“I want to use film technique, the technology of emotions, to make people identify with something that normally they won’t identify with, and through this identification, I want to start bridging the gap between Israelis and our past,” he concluded. “I’m not a religious person, but I think a place that has no past will have no future.”

The Sunday evening program will include a dinner at the DoubleTree Skokie. For more information visit or call (847) 982-5465.

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