Tango Shalom is an inventive, charming, feel-good comedy about an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who decides to enter a televised Tango competition with a beautiful dance instructor. Rabbi Moshe Yehuda (Jos Laniado) has fallen on hard times, and jobs are scarce. His family relies on his income, and when his hours are cut teaching at the Yeshiva school, he goes out to seek employment. So Moshe ventures outside his traditional Hasidic Crown Heights neighborhood to find career opportunities. Despite being part of such an insular sect, he is a worldly man and enjoys the culture of New York City, reveling in the differences he encounters from his usual stomping ground.
“…Moshe’s Hasidic faith prohibits him from touching a woman who isn’t his wife. As such, Tango would be impossible.”
In his journey across the Big Apple, Moshe stumbles across a Tango dance studio run by Viviana Nieves (the stunning Karina Smirnoff). Unfortunately, Viviana’s partner for the big Tango contest throws her over for another dancer, and now she burns for vengeance (and the prize money). Moshe is a great dancer, and his natural gifts — mainly expressed in the Hora — make him the perfect dance partner for her. The challenge is that Moshe’s Hasidic faith prohibits him from touching a woman who isn’t his wife. As such, Tango would be impossible. But Moshe is intrigued by the idea of dancing in the contest. Plus, he desperately needs the prize money.
He feels that this is the path HaShem (the Hasidic name for God) has set him on, so he goes on a spiritual quest to find a way to dance with Viviana without breaking his faith. He consults with a spiritual leader, Rebbe Menahem (Bern Cohen), for guidance. Menahem’s analysis consists of endless considerations, saying, “On the other hand…” Frustrated, Moshe hits the streets and winds up speaking to holy men of several faiths to get different perspectives on the problem. He even visits an Islamic Imam at a mosque, a religion generally thought of as anathema to Judaism. The solution he hits upon is a stroke of innovative genius that also happens to be absurd and funny.
"…a family film both in front of the camera and behind it."