‘Don’t be a shvitzer ,” said the mother to her son as he left to join the IDF. This is but one of the wonderful bits of motherly advice in “Eskimo Limon,” the 1978 Israeli cult classic. “Eskimo Limon” is among the many hilarious Israeli movies from the ’60s and ’70s known as “Bourekas films”: tawdry, cheaply made and rife with political incorrectness and cleavage shots. In other words, kids might actually look forward to learning Hebrew on Sunday mornings if Bourekas films made up the core of the curriculum.
Although these movies were passé in Israel by the 1980s, they remain powerful educational tools for teaching youngsters not only Hebrew but also Israeli culture and history. The films showcase the ethnic tensions that plagued Israel when the country itself was in young adulthood, usually pitting a Sephardic “good guy” against an Ashkenazic establishment figure. The sight of the short-shorts and hairy legs alone would be enough keep Hebrew school students laughing all semester. And the breast shots would help keep even the most rambunctious boys in their seats.
Memo to teachers: Do not show “Eskimo Limon” until the last week of class, lest your male students attempt to imitate the scene in which a young man inserts his genitals into the bottom of a tub of popcorn and then offers his date a handful.
Mason Lerner is the sports editor of The Faster Times.