The Schmooze

An Orphan in Pre-State Palestine

In the opening frame of Dina Zvi Riklis’s film “The Fifth Heaven,” which will be screened June 15 as part of SERET 2012, London’s first Israeli Film & Television Festival, we receive an explanation of the movie’s title.

“There are seven heavens in the sky,” the movie tells us, quoting the Talmud. “The fifth one is called Ma’on, in which ministering angels chant divine songs by night.”

Set in Palestine in 1944, at a girl’s orphanage on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, this sensitive, coming-of-age drama is based on Rachel Eytan’s autobiographical novel of the same name.

Thirteen-year-old Maya (Amit Moshkovitz) has been deserted by her mother and is deposited at the orphanage by her father, Hermoni, who has remarried and finds it difficult to raise her.

Life in the orphanage is tough and Maya struggles to adjust, seeking solace in writing stories at night. The film charts a succession of potential “angels,” each of whom fails in their ministering duties, until there is just one, unshakeable ally at Maya’s side.

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An Orphan in Pre-State Palestine

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