Nitza Spiro Hebrew Studies

Registered Charity No 1070926

Review: An Israeli Love Story – Yet another film treat to the followers of the Spiro Ark

The Spiro Ark is regularly treating its followers to  films carefully chosen with historical introductions , and with  fascinating observations following the screenings  to an extremely interesting and versatile audience.

Going to see a film with subtitles can be a bit daunting – you feel you have to be 100% awake with maximum concentration.  However, somehow when I saw ‘An Israeli Love story’ I was so lost in the story that I forgot that I was reading the subtitles and might have even picked up a bit of Hebrew along the way.

‘An Israeli Love Story’ (2017), directed and produced by Dan Wolman, is based on the true story of the love affair between sassy Pnina Gary, from Nahalal, and the reserved and ideological freedom-fighter Eli Ben–Zvi, son of Rachel Yanait and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi the Second President of the State of Israel.  It gave a seemingly realistic insight into Israel of 1947 where you could also see the roots of Israeli culture today.

The story begins with the best friend of Pnina giving comfort to her after the loss of her fiancé.  Pnina’s mother-in-law had written a letter to her where she pours out her heart and implores her that their bond will never break.  Already I am hooked.  It is not often in a film that you feel like you could actually know the characters – the mother-in-law who loves her child with a passion that will never end, the Israeli girlfriend who might appear strong on the outside, but whose centre has been ripped apart in a way that will forever scar and her best friend, always there to support her – to have a laugh with, to encourage and to support when times are tough.

And as the film progresses I learnt that although its people were imbued with a strong sense of ideological zest, living in Israel at this time was extremely difficult: they saw death on a battlefield that was not thousands of miles away but was often only miles from their house; they welcomed survivors from the Holocaust by literally meeting them at a shore at a prescribed time and giving them the physical and emotional support they needed with only blankets and kind words as their tools and the pure socialist outlook of kibbutz life meaning that even wedding gifts were not considered the property of the newlyweds which was a level of idealism that not all were comfortable with.

I could also relate the culture to an Israel I see of today.  For example, Pnina went to sit down on the bus with her friend and within two minutes of speaking to Eli and his friend they had discovered that they knew someone in common.  Where else would this happen?

Then there was the car situation. When I was in Israel about four years ago we were on the Number One road and had quite a nasty accident, but fortunately no-one was hurt.  Six people stopped to see if they could help and one of them gave me a lift back to Modiin so that I could pick up my children from their day camp whilst my husband stayed with the car. Therefore it seemed totally plausible that to me that when Eli Ben–Zvi’s car broke down Pnina offered him a place to stay for the night because he couldn’t get home – and even though Pnina had ulterior motives  – Pnina’s parents thought, at first at least, that there was nothing strange in being this generous. I’m not sure that offering lifts or places to stay to someone you hardly know is the norm in other countries but in Israel I know that it always has been and it always will be.

The plot weaved a familiar tale of young love going through difficult times. Sometimes, stories based on true life, do not have a true life feel to them – too many elements of the original story have been changed.  But because I could relate to the characters and the culture so well every aspect of the story seemed real and I would recomm end it wholeheartedly to anyone.


Sharon Ross