Menashe

Menashe, a recently widowed Hasidic Jewish man, tries to regain custody of his ten-year-old son Rieven. Rieven is living with his aunt and uncle (Eizik, Yoel Weisshaus) per a ruling by the Rabbi that Menashe must first remarry to provide a proper home for his son. Menashe’s first marriage was unhappy, and he is reluctant to wed again. He works as a clerk in a grocery store with a difficult manager, and has a hard time earning enough money for himself. He doesn’t wear the traditional black coat and top hat in public, though his son tells him he would look nice in one. Eizik, his successful brother-in-law, looks down on him. They argue in front of the Rabbi, who lets Rieven stay with Menashe for a week, until the upcoming memorial service for his wife, but reiterates the requirement for a two-parent home. Eizik wants the memorial meal in his finer home, but Menashe insists on having it in his shabby apartment. Getting a “bachelor-proof” recipe for kugel from a neighbor, Menashe puts the pan in the oven before going to the cemetery for the service. He and the participants, including the Rabbi, return to an apartment full of smoke. Eizik criticizes the burnt kugel, but the Rabbi praises it and insists the uncle eat a piece. Menashe begs Eizik to let Rieven live with him, but is told he must first find a wife. Menashe says he will see the matchmaker again. He goes to the ritual bath (mikvah), and dons a coat and top hat.