ABOUT THE FILM
FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!
The famous Hasidic master, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, taught that stories can bring healing to the soul. While most people tell stories to children to put them to sleep, Rebbe Nachman told his stories to wake people up! Emphasizing the importance of always being happy, these magical, fairytale-like stories, set 200 years ago in Russia and Europe, and colored with princes, peasants, demons, and kings, are filled with the great inspiration, joy, and song for which Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is famous. Featuring the popular Israeli actor, Yehuda Barkan, the movie is a fun, uplifting adventure for the whole family, and for audiences of all ages, nationalities, and faiths.
Besides being an entertaining experience, the film has great educational value and is an ideal tool to be used in conjunction with a lecture or discussion following the screening, in schools, synagogues, community centers, and the like. Because the film is comprised of four independent stories, each story can be screened separately and used as a trigger to explore the major themes in the story. For example, the story, “The Turkey Prince” deals with the difficulties of raising rebellious children and how to educate them in the most effective way. “The Treasure” teaches that every person has a treasure within himself and only needs the proper guidance to discover it. “The Worldly Son and the Simpleton” emphasizes the danger of following foreign ideologies and creeds, and the value of simple faith. And “Matter of Trust” teaches that true happiness lies in steadfast belief, rather than in riches and fame.
SCREENING AND LECTURE OPTIONS
In addition to a screening of the complete film of 95 minutes, Shoshana Street Productions has designed two unique options for screenings and discussions of the movie:
“STORIES OF REBBE NACHMAN” features the screening of 3 stories, “Turkey Prince” starring Yehuda Barkan; “The Treasure”; and “Matter of Trust” once again starring Yehuda Barkan. Screening time is 55 minutes, followed by a lively discussion led by either Yehuda Barkan, or with the film’s director, Tzvi Fishman, or with some other educator.
“THE WORLDLY SON AND THE SIMPLETON”
The 40 minute screening of “THE WORLDLY SON AND THE SIMPLETON”, followed by a lecture and discussion by a Torah scholar expert in the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
ABOUT THE STORIES
“The Turkey Prince”
The first story, “The Turkey Prince,” is about a 16-year-old prince who suddenly starts to crow and behave like a turkey. His strange behavior shocks his father, the king, played by Israel’s most famous actor, Yehuda Barkan. The king is astounded when his son takes off his regal clothes and hops under the table, where he eats crumbs off the floor. “What did I do wrong?” the father wonders aloud. “Maybe I should have spent more time being a father and less time being a king.”
After the greatest wise men, magicians, and physicians in the land fail to help the boy, a Jewish Sage appears, removes his outer garments, bawks like a turkey, and hops down under the table, acting like a turkey to win the trust of the prince. Gradually, the Sage convinces the youth that he can wear clothes, eat normal food, and sit at the table, and still be a turkey. In this fashion, he succeeds in bringing the boy back to his senses, and inspires a new, loving relationship between father and son.
The next, very short story, “The Treasure,” is about a Peasant who dreams of a treasure buried under a bridge in Vienna. Excited, the Peasant runs off on the long journey to the bridge. There, at the old bridge, as he searches for the treasure, a Policeman confronts him and angrily asks what he is doing by the bridge? Frightened, the Peasant tells the Policeman about his dream. The Policeman laughs cynically and tells the Peasant about a similar dream that he had, of a treasure buried under a stove in a mountain cabin. As the Policeman describes his dream, the Peasant realizes that he is describing his very own cabin. Happily, he races back home where he discovers the treasure chest under the stove, realizing that the treasure was with him all along! The STORYTELLER explains that we all have a treasure within us, but sometimes we need to journey to a person who can help us discover the treasure within ourselves.
“A Matter of Trust”
The final story, “A Matter of Trust,” tells about a rich and famous king (Yehuda Barkan) who has all the material pleasures of the world, but who feels empty and unhappy inside. The king decides to disguise himself as a beggar and wander about his kingdom to learn the secret of happiness. He meets a simple Jew, a fixer by trade, who lives in a cave and is truly happy with his modest lot, trusting in the Almighty to provide him with all his needs. The king decides to test the Fixer by taking away his livelihood. But when the king issues a decree banning the hiring of repair men, the fixer finds work as a wood cutter. When the king bans wood cutting, the Jew finds work as a gardener. Night after the night, the king disguises himself as a beggar and visits the fixer in his cave, where he shares the fine meal which the fixer sets before him. Time and again the king tries to foil the fixer by banning his means of employment, but the contented man always finds other work and the money to buy his regal, nightly meal. In a surprise happy ending, the king comes to learn the priceless secret of being happy with one’s lot.
“The Worldly Son and the Simpleton"
The third and longest story is the famous Rebbe Nachman tale, “The Worldly Son and the Simpleton." Two childhood friends grow up and follow separate paths. The Simpleton is happy with his lot. To him, water tastes like fine wine, and bread tastes like delicious soup or meat. In his eyes, his simple sheepskin coat is an elegant jacket, and the funny-looking shoes he makes as a shoemaker are as sweet as “sugar and honey.” In contrast, his friend, the Worldly Son sets off to seek out fame and fortune in the wide world. He travels to the great cities of Europe, exploring wisdoms and foreign cultures until he becomes a master of many crafts and a distinguished physician. But because he knows everything there is to know, life seems insignificant in his eyes, and he sees the imperfection in everything which he does, leading him to depression. Returning home from his travels, he discovers that his house has fallen into ruin, so he moves in with his old friend, the Simpleton, who, in contrast to the Worldly Son, is happy with everything he has.
One sleepless night, the king browses through the registry of citizens and comes upon the names of the Simpleton and the Worldly Son. He calls them to the palace, and in a sudden change in fortune, he decides to dismiss the corrupt Prime Minister and to appoint the honest Simpleton in his place. In contrast, when the Worldly Son receives the letter from the king, asking him to come to the palace, he analyzes it in his intellectual fashion and comes to the conclusion that there isn’t a king at all! Thus, he sets off on another journey around the world to prove to mankind that humanity is sadly mistaken in believing in a king who doesn’t exist. During the course of his travels, he loses all of his money and becomes a beggar. Returning home, he meets up again with his childhood friend, the Simpleton, who is now the wise and righteous Prime Minister. Having fallen into an abyss of cynicism and scorn, the Worldly Son is whisked away by the Satan and imprisoned in an enchanted forest, in a pond of boiling quicksand. Only when the Simpleton comes to rescue him, with the help of the Master of Prayer, does the Worldly Son come to understand that there indeed is a king, and this awakening leads him to spiritual enlightenment and a newfound happiness and joy.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Tzvi Fishman is the producer and director of the film, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman.” Born in America, he is a graduate of New York University, School of the Arts, where he majored in Film and Television. Shortly afterward, he published his first novel, “Paradise,” for the well-known Dell Publishers and wrote the screenplay for a major Hollywood movie, “Law and Disorder,” for Columbia Pictures. For several years, he taught Dramatic and Creative Writing at the New York University Film School. In Hollywood, he wrote the screenplay for two other feature films. Feeling an emptiness with life in Hollywood, he set off on a spiritual quest which led him to Judaism and Torah. His journey back to his Jewish roots and to the Land of Israel is a riveting story filled with miracles, as exciting as any movie. In Israel, he learned Torah for many years, and has published nearly twenty novels and scholarly books on a wide range of Jewish themes. He was awarded the Israel Minister of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture. In addition to producing and directing the “Stories of Rebbe Nachman,” he has directed and produced a series of docu-dramas on the subject of Medical Ethics and Jewish Law. Married with seven children, he lives in Jerusalem.
Mr. Fishman’s books are available on Amazon Books:
From Hollywood to Machon Meir
It is often said that in any work of art, in works of literature, poetry, or music, the artist, or writer, or composer, is expressing his own inner self. Perhaps this explains why I chose the four stories in my new movie, “Stories of Rebbe Nachman.” After all, Rebbe Nachman told many stories to his students in order to wake them up from what he called their slumber in their service of Hashem. So, what led me to choose these four?
The first story in the movie is the “Indyk,” Rebbe Nachman’s famous tale of the son of a king who goes crazy, throws off his clothes, crawls down under the royal table, and begins acting like a turkey, eating the crumbs on the floor. In a broad metaphorical sense, this describes the state of the Jewish People in exile – we are sons of the king who have been banished to a very undignified life, living in disgrace “under the table,” surviving on the crumbs of the goyim. On more personal level, in Hollywood I was like a wild turkey, hopping around, filling up my lusts with anything I could grab, chasing after the crumbs of life – things like material fortune, fame, physical pleasure, honor, and other non-Jewish values that have no lasting substance or holiness.
In America, throughout high school and college, I learned everything there was to learn in the world – like the Chacham in Rebbe Nachman’s story, “The Chacham and the Tam” – but absolutely nothing about Judaism. I pursued all wisdoms and philosophies, and studied about foreign cultures, experimenting with their customs and beliefs, until I no longer knew that the world had a King. It was a Jewish “sage” who saved me – in the form of a friend from Israel, Daniel Dayan, who was also “under the table,” trying to be a successful Hollywood actor. One day on the beach, he asked me why I didn’t know anything about the Torah. His question was like a thunderbolt from Heaven, setting me on a journey of self-discovery that led me out from under the table to and the great light I found in the Beit Midrash of Yeshivat Machon Meir.
The role of the Tzaddik, guide, or mentor, also plays a key role in Rebbe Nachman’s story of “The Treasure under the Bridge in Vienna.” The peasant travels far away to Vienna in order to discover the treasure, only to learn that it was with him all the time, buried under the stove in his home! So too, the treasure was with me all the time, in my very own soul and roots, but I had to undergo a very long voyage, wandering in many foreign fields until I discovered the person who could show me the path to greatest treasure of all – the connection to Hashem and to Torah. Fortunately, in addition to my Hollywood friend, Daniel Dayan (who is an avid Breslov Hasid today and also stars in the movie) my path was blessed with many guides. First and foremost was Rabbi Yehuda Hazani, z’tzal, whom I met when he was down “under the table” in New York, working with Meir Indor to bring American Jews to Israel to help out during the war in Lebanon, “Shalom HaGallile.” From them I discovered the connection to Clal Yisrael. Rab Yehuda brought me to Machon Meir and told Rav Begun to make sure I sat for at least a year in the Beit Midrash, studying Gemara and the teachings of Rabbi Kook. Through the wise and patient guidance of Rav Begun and the other Rabbis of Machon Meir, did I return to my rightful place at the King’s table and to my true identity as a holy son of the King.
Just as the Peasant was awakened to the existence of the treasure through a dream, one night in Hollywood, I too had a life-changing dream. I dreamt that I was in a store that sold second-hand clothes. When I walked through a doorway, I found myself in a room filled with books that were all written in Hebrew. Shelf after shelf of holy Hebrew texts. I couldn’t read Hebrew, but just standing there, surrounded by the books, I felt a sense of complete happiness and peace. It was a feeling I had never experienced in my life. Suddenly, the owner of the store appeared in the doorway and said I had to leave – the store was closing. I begged him to let me stay just a few more minutes so I could soak up the great joy which I felt. Grudgingly, he agreed. Then I noticed another doorway, leading to an even inner room. The room was empty, but on the floor there was a huge black box which somehow I instantly knew was a rosh tefillin – exaggerated in size like you might find in comedy movie. “Wow,” I though in my dream. “That’s what I want!” Then I heard a Heavenly Voice call out, as loud and clear as daylight: “THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED – TO ATTACH YOURSELF TO G-D!” I woke up startled! Never had I heard a voice so clear in my life. That morning, I drove to a synagogue in Los Angeles (a Chabad House – what else?) and asked the Rabbi if I could put on tefillin. That’s how I realized that Judaism wasn’t just a matter of belief like with other religions, but that in order to reach the treasure, there were also concrete things to do – the commandments of Hashem.
As to the fourth story in the movie, looking back to my days in Hollywood, I was exactly like the king in Rebbe Nachman’s story, “A Matter of Trust.” Once upon a time there was a king who had everything in the world – fame, fortune, and honor, but he felt empty inside. That was exactly how I felt in Hollywood. I had lots of money, a beautiful apartment by the beach, a cool sports car, recognition, famous friends like Arnold Schwartzenegger, who I worked out with in a health club – but I felt a terrible and painful emptiness inside. I had all the pleasures of the material world, but my holy Jewish soul was starving. Of course, at the time, I needn’t know that was the cause of my emptiness and pain. Like the unhappy king in Rebbe Nachman’s story, who sets off to discovery the secret of happiness, I too set off to discover what was missing in my seemingly ideal life in Hollywood. And like the king in the story, who comes to learn, in his encounters with the always joyous “Fixer,” that true happiness lies in simple faith and trust in Hashem, I too was blessed with the very same discovery through my encounters with the “malachim” whom Hashem sent to guide me in my quest. First, my friend, Daniel, then Rabbi Hazani, then the Rabbis at Machon Meir, where, stripped of material excesses,I had only a simple bed, in a simple room, with simple food, but learning in the Beit Midrash, surrounded by shelves and shelves of holy Hebrew texts, which little by little I could read on my own, I discovered the same happiness and feeling of serenity and wholeness which I had experience in my dream of the room filled with books in the old-clothes store.
So, thanks to Machon Meir and to the Tzaddikim whom I encountered on my way. And thanks to Rebbe Nachman. While many people associate Rebbe Nachman with trips to Uman, perhaps his greatest love was Eretz Yisrael. “Everywhere I travel, I am traveling to Eretz Yisrael,” he wrote. He taught that the entire order of prayer on Rosh Hashana was to bring a Jew to the exalted level of Eretz Yisrael, and a Jew can only rise higher and higher in his service of Hashem through the holiness of Eretz Yisrael. Rebbe Nachman has many other stories which would make wonderful movies, but maybe, with Hashem’s blessing, the next film I make will be about Rabbi Kook. What about Shuli Rand in the lead role? With a production by Arutz Meir? Who knows? Maybe that’s the reason that the Rebono Shel Olam brought me to Machon Meir from Hollywood? Lights, camera, action….
Tzvi Fishman, Then and Now
ABOUT YEHUDA BARKAN
Yehuda Ezekiel Berkowitz (Barkan) was born in Netanya. He studied at the Bialik and ORT in schools in Netanya. During his military service in the IDF, Barkan served in a Combat Engineering Corps unit and the Northern Command Military band.
After his military service, Barkan joined the Dizengoff Command Band, which was composed of veteran members of military bands whom performed songs and skits.
In the early 1970s, Barkan participated in a sketch on the Israeli radio show Hamim VeTaim in which Barkan and his colleagues, Moshe Timor, Shlomo Bar-Aba and others, made live prank calls. This became the inspiration for his later practical joke films.
In 1975 Barkan married. From his first marriage Barkan had three children. During the 1980s Barkan married again.
At the beginning of the 2000s, Barkan became a Baal Tshuva, married for the third time and moved to the religious moshav Beit Gamliel with his family. From his first marriage Barkan has four children.
During the 1970s and 1980s Barkan participated in many Israeli "Bourekas films", among them Lupo!, Lupo in New York, Katz V'Carasso, Charlie Ve'hetzi, Hagiga B'Snuker, Bo Nefotzetz Million and more. Other films he appeared in during that time include among others: Malkat Hakvish (1971) where he played alongside Gila Almagor, in Menachem Golan's film Attack at Dawn (1970) and in the film adaptation of the novel He Walked Through the Fields (1967) where he played alongside Assi Dayan.
During the 1980s Barkan began to direct and produce films, including the candid camera film Hayeh Ahaltah Otah (which he directed together with Yigal Shilon), Nipagesh Bachof, Nipagesh Basivuv, Matzlema Bli Busha and Geveret Tiftehi, Ze Ani). Also during the 1980s, Barkan produced and directed films comic drama films, most notably the Abba Ganuv film series and the film Neshika Bametzach released in 1990 where he played alongside Michal Yanai.
In 1993 Barkan made the film Mehapeset Baal Al Arba.
In 1994, shortly after the start of Israeli commercial television channel Channel 2 began its broadcasting, Barkan started hosting his own practical jokes show called Lo Dofkim Cheshbon.
In 1999 Barkan participated in two last films: Look into My Eyes and Volcano Junction, in which he played small supporting roles.
In 2003 Barkan participated in the documentary film Zehirut Matzlema along with Nurit Geffen and Josie Katz.
In 2004 Barkan played in the drama series Ahava BaShalechet along with Leah Koenig.
During the next ten years, Barkan became religious, and acted in a few “Haredi” films with religious themes. He created his own personal performance based on his life story and his return to Judaism, and is invited to appear before audiences all over the country. For several years, he had a radio show based on the Torah portion of the week on the “Kol Chai” radio station.
In 2014, Barkan was awarded the prestigious Ophir Award for Life Achievement by the Israel Film Academy, the Israeli equivalent to the Academy Awards.
In 2015, Barkan starred in the film “STORIES OF REBBE NACHMAN”
Yehuda Barkan, Then and Now
Production of SHOSHANA STREET PRODUCTIONS
Cast and crew:
Yehuda Barkan Daniel Dayan Yisrael Dagan Michael Greenspan Yehuda HaKohen David Lapid Yosef Albalak Amichai Fishman David Lev Bannister Moshe Berk David Herman Yosi Cohen Yaacov Orvitz Matanel Fishman Mordechai Taub Daniel Fliegler Leon Zonnenblik Mayer Bleishman Dr. Reuven Ben Dov Yonaton Behar David Whitford Larry Brandt Asaf Noga Simcha Wecker
Director and Producer Tzvi Fishman Script Tzvi Fishman and David Fishman Director of Photography Jorge Gurvich Sound Stac Gutman and Avishar Aga Lighting Ftian Avrahim Assistant Director Dor Mosessco Production Manager Amir Nezzer Editing Guiseppe Platania and Andrea Platania Special Effects and Post Production and Sound Editing Laadan International Assistant Cameraman Hallel Rosenberg Make-Up Yosi Levi Wardrobe and Set Design Francoise Coriat Assistant Set Design David Levy Songs by Udi Davidi and Yisrael Dagan Production Assistants Kobi Natan Nachman Dayan Yaacov Sadeh Matanel Fishman Aharon Darvish Aharon Alon