In this article, I will present the perspectives of a Syrian girl into the Israeli series ‘Shtisel’ that led to its success.
In one scene in the television series “Shtisel”, a bearded man appears accompanying his son, who has reached the age of commission, on his first trip to Medina, where the Jewish seminary is located to teach the Torah and Talmud. They both wear the black hat with wide brims and hanging behind their ears, the long tresses that characterize the ultra-Orthodox fundamentalists.
The boy had not previously left the isolated community in which he lived, and it was clear that he was fascinated by the scenes he saw in the city and while riding the bus, especially the women who revealed their legs and the woman breastfeeding her child.
Then his father said to him: “When your grandfather was taking me to Medina at your age, he would take off his glasses and put them on my eyes. Thus, he would not see anything nor me. What do you think if we tried that?”
Inside Shtisel Netflix Series
The Israeli series “Shtisel” depicts the life of a Haredi family, who lives in a neighborhood of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem. The episodes also include scenes of a family struggling to adhere to the values and laws prevailing in this society, such as the above described scene between a father and his son, as well as full of romantic scenes between the youngest son in the family and a woman who is older and widowed twice, or the challenges that his sister faces to support her five children after her husband abandons them suddenly.
The series combines many unusual elements, as it deals with serious intellectual issues with sarcastic touches, and revolves around a fundamentalist family living in a culturally isolated society that mixes the Hebrew and Yiddish languages. Despite this, the series achieved a smashing success.
Shtisel first succeeded in Israel
Perhaps the beginning was in Israel, where the series met with widespread acceptance among Israelis, even the puritan ones, who do not usually have television and do not watch series, as they mentioned that they were watching its episodes via the Internet. The song of the series became so popular with ultra-Orthodox people that they sang it at most of their weddings. Banners of the series spread in all neighborhoods of Israel, and some of the phrases that were said in the series were stuck in the minds of the viewers until they flowed on their tongues.
The series dealt with some sensitive topics that are not permitted by ultra-Orthodox communities to address them, but the success of the series comes from its discussion of common themes that are not specific to one community without the other.
This success has attracted widespread international attention. In December 2018, it was broadcast by the “Netflix” network for viewers around the world to watch, accompanied by translation into English and other languages, and the series achieved great success, which led the team to think about producing a third season of it (which was broadcasted early in March 2021). And American producer Marta Kaufman announced that she is working on the production of the series “Emmys”, the American version of the series “Shtisel” for the benefit of “Amazon” for film production.
Why Shtisel Became internationally popular?
Let’s start from me, I am a Syrian living in Dubai, I have zero knowledge about the culture of Israel (for political reason), I was full of curiosity when I saw the trailer. I hate propaganda that is why I did not watch the silly series that is called Foda (about Mosad). However, it is not the case in Shtisel, it contains almost zero politics. Nothing at all shows how Israel is a great country and it is better than all countries in the world. No, Shtisel is about love, humanity, partnership, relationships etc. Those things define us.
The reason for the series’s popularity is because it deals with the social and emotional relationships between members of the Haredi community, which are governed by relatively different rules and standards.”
The series “Shtisel” was distinguished from other television series that depict puritanical Israeli societies, due to its interest in the smallest details of daily life, such as portraying the actors performing the prayers before eating or touching the biblical barrage that they hang on their doors and then kiss their hands before passing the door.
The symbolism and the temporal shift between the past and the present played a large role in the narration of the events of the series, and a good example of this was the dialogue that took place between Akiva and his father on his way to school. Akiva is the youngest member of the Shtisel family, and he lives in an internal struggle due to the conflicting feelings he feels about the strict customs and standards that govern marriage and wife choice in this society.
The series boldly exposed some sensitive issues that the Haredis might prefer to be silent about, as in the clip in which Akiva’s niece, the teenage Roshami, who was caring for her sisters until her mother Getty returned from work, confessed that she had to breastfeed her little brother to silence him after he kept crying. All day long.
Finlay nothing can describe Shtisel better that the introduction in this interview, I highly recommend it: