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 to audiences worldwide.
The film’s name, Sallah Shabati is a play on words; ostensibly a Yemenite Jewish name, it is also intended to evoke the phrase סליחה שבאתי, “sorry that I came”.
Sallah Shabati is a landmark in Israeli film history because it represents the ideology of Labor Zionism and the Kibbutz movement from a cynical point of view. Because of that, Golda Meir (Israel’s prime minister at that time) refused to let the film leave the country.
But there is a happy end after all…Sallah Shabati was nominated in 1964 for an Academy Award in the category of Best Foreign Language Film, a first for an Israeli production, but it lost the Oscar to an Italian film.
Until this day, Sallah Shabati is one of the most successful and classical Israeli’s films.