Etti is a sweet little girl entering second grade. On her first day back to school, her father sends her by bus to a girls' live-in school in Jerusalem. Etti, like many other girls, lives in the school for social reasons – because their mothers can't cope, because their families have limited financial resources, because of problems at home.
This film, Day and Night, directed by Sivan Arbel, is the story of the Weingarten school in Jerusalem, which was established in 1902 as the first orphanage for girls in Israel. Today, the girls are both religious and secular and only a few are actually orphans.
Using authentic archival footage of the place over the years, the film follows little Etti on her first day, and also follows a group of grown women, who after 25 years, have come back to visit. It's hard for all of them. The visit brings back memories and the women talk about the feelings of abandonment, the loneliness and the sadness of being without their mothers. On the other hand, they describe the respectful treatment that characterized the Weingarten live-in school.
Etti makes a new friend and together they hide and play in the cubbies where the girls keep their clothes. She is a very articulate child, and admits quite openly that she doesn't miss her mother or her sisters during the day. At night is when it's hard.
The film (documentary, 51 minutes) is available from Odette and Yuval Orr at their production company, Unicornpro, which also produced and distributes the film, Hamakom.