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Netflix hit: "Shtisel" - that's what makes the Jewish series so interesting
Netflix hit: "Shtisel" - that's what makes the Jewish series so interesting

Do you already count yourself to "Shtiselmania"? No? Then you're missing out, because the Netflix series about the ultra-orthodox Jewish family "Shtisel" is a must-see.

Netflix: Shtisel
Netflix: Shtisel

Nobody watches a series about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family … "Sexy is something else," thought one of the leading actresses, Neta Riskin, 44, when she was offered a role in the Israeli family saga she can't get rid of the subject: "Although the entire team was convinced that we should shoot this primarily for ourselves. The budget was also rather small."

Between the worlds

The content is easy to explain: it outlines the life of the Shtisel family in their strictly orthodox environment in the Geula district of Jerusalem. The main characters are the head of the family Shulem Shtisel, who teaches as a rabbi in a religious school, his youngest, adult son Akiva Shtisel, who is constantly struggling with love problems, and his daughter Giti with her five children and her overwhelmed husband. The challenges between their strict rules and the clash with the liberal world, outside of their close environment, lead to exciting, amusing or dramatic situations

Mega success in installments

"The story was initially only a great success on the Israeli satellite channel Yes," Neta Riskin said in an interview. In 2018, the format was adopted by Netflix, but the huge hype didn't really start until last year. "Corona may have contributed something. It just exploded, "says Riskin. When the main cast traveled to New York a few weeks ago to present the third season, the police had to close down Sixth Avenue to handle the onslaught of fans.

I only recently fell for it, but since then I can't get enough of Shulem Shtisel and his children Akiva, Ben Zvi and Giti. Why? I can not explain. Actually it is about nothing and at the same time everything. Akiva (Michael Aloni), for example, son of the family patriarch Shulem Shtisel, is pushing the limits of Haredic society with his artistic endeavors. Or Giti, the daughter, played by Neta Riskin, is abandoned by her husband and tries to support her family anyway without jeopardizing her reputation. One could denounce the oppression of women in this world, but at the same time the series shows more feminism than you first suspect. Using Gitis as an example. After moving out, the focus is not on her husband; instead, his wife is shown struggling with financial worries and worrying about her children. She runs the business while he weakens. You drop in, have a fever and suffer with the protagonists and are happy with them. Hebrew or Yiddish is spoken with German subtitles. At first I was irritated by it, but you quickly get used to reading along and you understand a lot, especially when it comes to Yiddish.

Draw comparisons

The mini-series "Unorthodox" (also on Netflix), which also became a big hit, impressed me. Only, unlike in "Shtisel", the two worlds and their different values are juxtaposed there. I remember scenes in which the newly married Esther is pushed to have sex by her husband, despite great pain. The enormous pressure of the family, which does not deviate from the strict, orthodox rules for a second, also makes an understanding of the ultra-orthodox community almost impossible.

"Shtisel" is different. One stays almost continuously in the Haredic quarters of Jerusalem. Thus the events are not subjected to the examination according to "our" standards. But this makes it possible to think into the emotional world of people who are so different. No judgment is passed on the life of the ultra-Orthodox. Good this way.

The fan base is astonishing

I find the composition of the fans particularly remarkable: secular hipsters love the series just as much as the religiously religious from ultra-orthodox centers - at least those among them who allow themselves television and the Internet. These groups are otherwise rather hostile to each other, in "Shtisel" they are united. The Viennese, Anna Kitting, 29, has lived in London for two years, in the direct vicinity of a Haredic community: "I have always seen you there as the stranger who cling to values that I do not understand and who do not want to have anything to do with me. We ignored each other. " It's different now. "Shtisel" have changed a lot. "Suddenly I am familiar with these people. We are still at a distance, but I understand their motives better now. Yes, I have to say, I fell in love with the characters." I can only agree.

Season 3 has just started on Netflix. It is not ruled out that there will also be a fourth season.

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