It’s not every day that Israeli television makes it into the American news. But recently, Marta Kauffman, producer of the outrageously popular “Friends,” has announced that she will be producing a US remake of the Israel TV drama “Shtisel.” Certainly “Shtisel,” and its focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Shtisel family in Jerusalem, doesn’t seem like a theme that will grab America’s attention.
Hollywood seems to disagree. In 2003, Daniel Taub created and wrote “The Rebbe’s Court” which was a series focused on the lives of members of a Hassidic dynasty in Tel Aviv. Until Daniel Taub’s portrayal, most depictions of the ultra-orthodox were stereotypical and two-dimensional. Daniel Taub discussed the challenges that he faced when writing the show as he said,
“The producers wanted me to put some secular characters center stage for the largely secular audience to identify with. I insisted that the goal was to bring the viewers to connect emotionally with people from a very different world, and thankfully we were able to do this.”
Taub’s series was eventually bought and broadcast by Channel 10 and was a hit with both the secular public and the ultra-orthodox. As Daniel Taub explained, “In one episode of the series, a secular song is sung by one of the actors at a Shabbat meal. I was surprised to learn from one Hassid that this was now a regular Shabbat song in his community.”
Since this groundbreaking work, “Almost Touching,” “Kathmandu” and “Shtisel” have all become hits. Such hits, it seems, that America is now gearing up for their own “Shtisel” with a top Hollywood producer. Wonders never cease.