Shtisel

Shtisel is an Israeli TV series I recently came to watch on Netflix. The story revolves around an ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish family, their daily life and choices they make along the way.

However fictional the family is, I can’t help but ponder on how little I know about the ultra-Orthodox society. The strict rules, the prayers and studying of the Torah, the arranged marriages, fear of dogs, the basic setting of their homes and the unpretentious cuisine are things I found interesting to learn.

It was as if time has stopped at some point and then very very slowly started moving. Ordinary life doesn’t seem to deviate from what was centuries ago in many of its aspects. Of course, there are mobile phones and travel documents, but everything else was pretty much in the old way.

It was challenging for me to reflect on the implications of one of the sons, Akive Shtisel, being a talented painter and how this conflicts with the societal norms and perceptions. He is constantly under pressure to leave his talent and desire behind and join the respectable world of every day honest jobs.

The Shtisels are very different from the societal practices running the world at the beginning of the twentieth century. Arranged marriages were a thing back then. Steering away from the arts, too. Conservatism was ruling the world back then.

I have to admit to myself that I need to read up on ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jewish. There is so little I know about them or any other societies different from what I see every day or what I have experienced in the past or during my travels. I also wonder how many people are also totally ignorant when it comes to societies different than theirs. And do they seek to learn?

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