Located 20 minutes from Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, with a population of 250,000, is Israel’s ninth largest city and the capital of the country’s ultra-Orthodox community. The new documentary “By the Grace of Heaven,” now streaming on IZZY, offers a glimpse inside this insular community during the pandemic and shows how the government-mandated quarantine and closures, curfews and mandated isolation disrupted daily life as the coronavirus quickly spread.
Beginning in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID crisis, the film follows residents who pray on balconies as they prepare for Passover and the officials, health care and service workers, relief volunteers and members of the military who deal with the crisis.
“The coronavirus plague was, essentially, an ‘excuse’ for me to discover the richness and diversity of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish identity, and to engage with the complexity of this community and the values that dictate its life,” writer-director Yariv Mozer said. “I went to Bnei Brak with the common image of ultra-Orthodox society as it is sometimes presented in the secular media. During the coronavirus pandemic, the media created severe injustice and antagonism towards an entire society, which this film seeks to correct even slightly.”
“The coronavirus plague was, essentially, an ‘excuse’ for me to discover the richness and diversity of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish identity, and to engage with the complexity of this community and the values that dictate its life.” — Yariv Mozer
“I felt I had a task: to portray the story of Bnei Brak in a different way,” added producer Ronen Menalis, a former Brigadier General in the Israel Defense Forces, and currently the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. “I realized that there is something in this city and its people that cannot be seen from the outside.”
IZZY is available via the iOS App Store, Google Play, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and on the web at www.streamisrael.tv.