Sallah Shabati

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Sallah Shabati
Directed byEphraim Kishon
Produced byMenahem Golan
StarringChaim Topol
Arik Einstein
Gila Almagor
Shraga Friedman
CinematographyFloyd Crosby
Release date
  • June 1964 (1964-06)
Running time
110 minutes

Sallah Shabati (Hebrew: סאלח שבתי‎) is a 1964 Israeli comedy film about the chaos of Israeli immigration and resettlement. This social satire placed the director Ephraim Kishon and producer Menahem Golan among the first Israeli filmmakers to achieve international success. It also introduced actor Chaim Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) to audiences worldwide.

The protagonist's name, Sallah Shabati, is perhaps a play on the phrase סליחה שבאתי, Sliḥa she'bati, "sorry that I came". In earlier print versions of Kishon's short stories which were revised for the film, the character was known as Saadia Shabtai.


The film begins with Sallah Shabati, a Mizrahi Jewish immigrant, arriving in Israel with his family. Upon arrival he is brought to live in a ma'abara, or transit camp. He is given a broken-down, one-room shack in which to live with his family and spends the rest of the movie attempting to make enough money to purchase adequate housing. His money-making schemes are often comical and frequently satirize the political and social stereotypes in Israel of the time.



Sallah Shabati's irreverent and mocking depiction of core Zionist institutions like the kibbutz provoked strong reactions among many filmgoers and critics. "The kibbutzniks in the film resemble bureaucrats and are clearly divided into veterans with managing roles and 'simple' workers, a division which contradicts the myth of Socialist solidarity and collectivist idealism. The kibbutzniks betray total indifference, furthermore, to the miserable conditions of the poor ma'abara next to them."[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Sallah Shabati received mixed reviews but achieved unprecedented box office success in Israel, drawing almost 1.3 million spectators.[2] Overseas, it won the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Award as Best Foreign Film, and opened and closed the Berlin Film Festival.[3] The film was nominated for a 1964 Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, a first for an Israeli production, but it lost the Oscar to the Italian film, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ella Shohat, Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (London: I. B. Taurus, 2010), p. 127.
  2. ^ Judd Ne'eman, "Israeli Cinema," in Oliver Leaman, ed., Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film (London: Routledge, 2001), p. 307.
  3. ^ Shohat, Israeli Cinema, p. 126.
  4. ^ "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-05.

External links[edit]