Decoding any group of people can get tricky. Thro in a particular stream of religious sensibilities and such sections of people often make for misunderstanding and confusion. Well, that certainly isn’t the case with some of the offerings on Netflix attempting to dive into the life and times of orthodox Jews. We put together a starter pack on such shows and movies.
Simple, stunning, and simply, stunningly heartbreaking. This award winning two-season long series isn’t clearly for those who prefer heart racing shows. But boy, does it leave you pensive, engaged and totally sucked in. The show revolves around the Shtisel family in Jerusalem. A reluctant Patriarch himself battling the boundaries of his community. A daughter who comes to terms with her runaway husband. And the show’s central character, the youngest son, who soon finds out life isn’t forgiving of forbidden love. Certainly not for the Haredi Jew. Must watch! Psst. Season 3 is on its way.
This one prominently features on another list of ours as well. This one’s all heart. A personal favourite, this 2020 German-American production attempts to elaborate on life in a Hasidic community. While the portrayal has been subject to a barrage of differentiating opinions, the attempt is stellar. 19 year old Esty (stunningly portrayed by Shira Haas) runs away to Berlin, breaking away from her Hasidic roots in New York – or at least she thinks so. With the past lurking around, the series follows Esty as she rediscovers herself amongst newfound freedom and opportunities. With a stellar supporting cast and a taught narrative, Unorthodox – which has garnered eight Emmy nominations – is a must watch.
One of Us
A critical hit, this 2017 documentary film revolves around 3 ex-members of the Hasidic Jew community of Brooklyn. While what’s common to all three of them is their Hasidic past, what they have to individually have to face is the scorn of their community and the family. As well as the respective journeys of coming to terms with the newer ways of life of the secular world. All while carrying ghosts of a past riddled with religious doubt, domestic abused and childhood sexual abuse.
Eyes Wide Open
Taking over the family’s butcher shop after his father’s recent demise is more challenging that it seemed to be. What with the ultra-Orthodox butcher soon running into a homeless religious student that he offers to host at his shop. What starts off as a good will gesture soon turns into a torrid romance. A tale of pure gay love, in not the best of circumstances, the awar winning films makes for a poignant watch.
Delightful, heartwarming. The central character of Menashe has to deal with the death of his wife and the immediate separation from his son. Devastated as he already is, he now has to pick himself up, what lies before him is a wide web of emotions all left for him to untangle. Shot over two years, and without featuring any women, the Yiddish show is a beautiful attempt at understanding the ultra-Orthodox religious community.