You can’t say anything new to a man; one can only tell him what he already knows, said Hegel. No communication theory can think that – but this film can. And above all: He can show it! Totally subliminal, totally unobtrusive.

Seeing “not quite kosher” means understanding: Something in us must always be prepared for what we are supposed to learn. It must be able to connect to one’s own experience of the world, especially when it seems to contradict it.

Almost twenty years ago, the screenwriter and director Stefan Sarazin met a young Bedouin in Sinai, who amazed him deeply: he didn’t hate the Jews. Even then he knew that the man had to go to the cinema, especially after they both discovered an old fishing boat on the edge of the desert. Sometimes reality is the best surrealist.

But there was still a long way to go before this film, which was originally going to be called “No Name Restaurant”; that’s what it said on the beached desert ship. So now with an indelible German film title inclination to the conservative sense “Not quite kosher”. And that begins with the arrival of the orthodox Jew Ben in Jerusalem, where the young man from Brooklyn is supposed to complete his Torah study.

But there is something else, he suspects it: He is to be married. Orthodox Jews do not marry according to their hearts, but like marriages used to be done all over the world: according to family decisions.

As Ben, Luzer Twersky radiates the greatest possible self-confidence with fundamentally falling insecurity, a stunning mixture. His face always seems closed and yet is wide open. A simplicissimus who carefully avoids every adventure. It is all the more astonishing that on the day of his arrival in Jerusalem he volunteered without hesitation for a dubious mission.

Alexandria once had the largest Jewish community in the world, but now they are only nine. nine men. In order to be able to celebrate Passover, or even a Jewish service, there must be ten of them. Help us! resounds from Alexandria to Jerusalem. Especially since their house would revert to the Egyptian state if they were no longer able to participate in the community. I’m the tenth man, Ben decides.

Sarazin kept looking in reality for traces of his still-unshot film, also in Alexandria, and with the news about the Jewish community, the idea suddenly came up: But first Ben missed his flight – in a taxi to the Egyptian border.

“Not Quite Kosher” also has a subtitle: “A Divine Comedy”. Thank God this film didn’t turn out to be a comedy, let alone a culture clash comedy. Only in the scenes immediately before and after Ben crosses the border is it really one, and a pretty good one at that. The incredulous amazement of the Egyptian border guards when they see this appropriately dressed man with the sidelocks walking towards them all alone. And the somnambulistic way he gets on the bus afterwards. On a bus full of Egyptians.

It’s wonderful how Holger Jungnickel’s camera slides over the shocked faces, and each one tells its own story about the relationship between the Egyptians and the Jews. The result is not good. But Ben is allowed to ride, the bus driver lets people vote democratically. One points out that the next time the Israeli army wants to invade Egypt, they can buy bus tickets right away. But most are impressed by the young Jew’s fearlessness.

However, the opinion changes with the change of passengers at the stops, which is why Ben has to get off in the middle of the desert. Enter nobility. The great Haitham Omar plays the slightly demoralized Bedouin with a strangely superior gentleness. Every sentence between him and Ben carries.

The vastness of the desert seems to have shaped his mind, there are no limits here. The Sinai is played from Wadi Rum in Jordan, where “Lawrence of Arabia” was written. What an elementary background for the most elementary questions. So those after God and survival.

There is nothing more to say, but of course it can be seen in this beautiful, touching film. Except: You can’t say anything new to a person? That’s probably the way it is, but in the end man himself is new, sometimes.