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After the death of their tenth male member, indispensable for religious services, the steadily declining Jewish congregation of Alexandria faces the final curtain. All the property and possessions of the once largest Jewish community in the world is now due to turn over to the Egyptian state after the upcoming feast of Passover – to the great delight of the Alexandrian city administrator, who nourishes a refined hostility with the Jewish community’s president.
The cry for help reaches his brother-in-law Yechiel in Jerusalem at the worst possible moment: his wife is heavily pregnant, the holiday business is in full swing and a family visitor is on his way from New York. Hence, it comes in handy that this visitor, Yechiel’s ultra-orthodox nephew Ben, is only too willing to go on this historic mission, even if secretly it is only to escape, once again, the matchmaker. Unfortunately, due to his passion for all things culinary, Ben misses his fight. Naively, he decides to make the journey overland. Ben’s trip ends abruptly, however, when his fellow Arabic travelers, after a heated argument about Ben, kick him off the bus in the middle of the Sinai Desert.


Ben gets picked up by Adel, a grumpy Bedouin in his ramshackle Renault 4, who promises to take Ben to far-away Alexandria, provided he first finds his run-away camel. Ben’s initial sense of relief turns into anxiety, as they follow the camel tracks ever deeper into the desert. Adel’s taciturnity and a strange encounter with three not-quite-kosher Bedouins, lead Ben to attempt an escape using Adel’s car. It turns into a miserable failure. Barely has Adel’s anger dissipated when only a little later the motor of the R4 seizes, not the least because of Ben’s careless water consumption.

A two-day hike is supposed to lead them to a water hole. While this is to become a trip into Adel’s past, for Ben it turns out to be a journey to the roots of his beliefs. They pass a mysterious ship, rotting in the sand, where Ben hears of Adel’s family feud and his grappling with modern Bedouin life. Despite dissension and dispute they slowly draw closer. At the mythical “Sleeping Dragon“ they prepare a meager last meal from their dwindling food supplies and Adel learns not only of Ben’s unusual penchant for cooking, but also of his forbidden love for Rahel, a non-Hassidic Jewess.


When they finally reach the well, disaster strikes again. Because of their careless cockiness and a rotting pulley device they tumble headlong into the well. Saving themselves on their own accord proves to be impossible. Both of them begin to believe, that through their misdirected lives, they have angered their Gods. Almost on a side note they make the seemingly banal discovery that they are worshiping the same “nameless” God. Adel swears an oath to this “No Name”, that, should they miraculously be rescued, he will fix the rotting boat just as he once promised his brother, and he tricks Ben into the deal by making him promise to declare his love to Rahel.

The miracle, which promptly saves them, appears in the shape of Adel’s thirsty camel with whose assistance they manage to free themselves. Although feverish and a physical wreck, Ben insists on searching for a Greek monastery Adel has heard of, as his last hope of fulfilling the mission. Ending up lost in the valleys surrounding Mount Sinai, they are found by a hermit monk of St. Catherine’s Monastery, where a sickbed is prepared for Ben.


As Adel spends the night on the Holy Mountain, a plan forms in his mind. While Ben is still unconscious, Adel cuts off his companion’s side locks, takes his clothing and speeds to Alexandria in the monastery’s company car, an official permit from the abbot aboard.

Just in the nick of time, Adel hurries toward the synagogue gate. The fabbergasted Egyptian policemen, having no reason to detain this strange-looking Jew, must let him pass, much to the delight of the community members.
Meanwhile, Ben regains consciousness dressed in a monk’s habit. Horrified, he discovers his naked temples. Only as Adel’s plan begins to dawn on him he does calm down as he contemplates his refection in the mirror.
The Alexandrian city administrator, already seeing himself defeated, gets hold of the monastery’s driving permit exposing Adel as a fake Jew, thus passing the community’s fate back into his hands. As he lights a victory cigar, he decides instead to pursue his cherished enmity with his Jewish counterpart and smilingly burns the compromising document.


Some time later. In a letter to Adel, Ben tells him of an incredible dream he has had the other night: the boat in the desert has been remodeled and turned into a restaurant. Adel welcomes his brothers’ caravan. Newspaper articles taped onboard the restaurant show photos of Ben’s wedding with Rahel as well as the restaurant opening with high-placed representatives of the three world religions. In the shade of the boat, Rahel is serving an Israeli family engaged in a lively discussion with Egyptians sitting at their table. Ben, his side locks re-grown and his head covered by a kippah, is re-writing the daily menu: “Adel’s grilled fish” turns into “Ben’s gefilte Fish”. Fade to black.
Postscript: “…Defying all cultural and political boundaries, Ben’s & Adel’s NO NAME RESTAURANT with its unique blend of Yiddish and Arab cuisine is definitely the most exciting eatery between Tangiers and Baghdad. This boat rocks!“
(Lonely Planet)