Director of Netflix hit “Shtisel” highlights Jewish Studies event

“Shtisel,” an Israeli television series about a family living in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, is an international hit on Netflix. Its director and writer, Yehonathan Indursky, will talk about the series during “The Making of Shtisel,” an online event hosted by Cornell’s Jewish Studies Program on March 24, 4 – 5 p.m. Registration is required. This event is made possible because of support from the Hope and Eli Hurowitz Fund.

The event is co-sponsored by the Cornell Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Israel Studies at Binghamton University.

“I think it’s important for students to learn about the creative process, and to have an opportunity to ask questions of writers, filmmakers and artists,” said Deborah A. Starr, professor of modern Arabic and Hebrew literature and film in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and director of the Jewish Studies Program. “Supporting this sort of program is part of the mission of Jewish Studies. Although, this year, we cannot host speakers in person, the technology makes this program available to the wider Cornell community both on and off campus.”

“Shtisel” follows members of the Shtisel family through their daily lives and concerns while also offering information about ultra-Orthodox traditions, said Shalom Shoer, senior lecturer in the Jewish Studies Program. Shoer uses episodes of “Shtisel” in classes to teach Hebrew language and culture.

“It’s an opportunity to be an observer in a lifestyle that usually you won’t have access to,” Shoer said, explaining that Haredi Jews, who adhere to strict practices, live in communities that remain closed to even to fellow Israelis. “It’s captured a moment in time and the issues so well.”

Shoer said he uses a variety of films and TV shows to illustrate the range of Hebrew culture to students.

“I teach four semesters [of Hebrew language and culture]. By the time they’re done with me, students are exposed to the secular world, the modern orthodox, ultra-orthodox and Arab Palestinian world. Hopefully, they get a better picture of what Israeli society is about.”

“Shtisel” has found a devoted and diverse audience worldwide, especially since Netflix began to stream it in 2018. The show debuted in 2013 and has won 17 Israeli Academy of Television awards.

Indursky, a graduate of the ultra-Orthodox Ponevezh Yeshiva and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School, also earned accolades for his full-length documentary “Ponezezh Time” (2014), which was nominated for best documentary film at the Israeli Academy Awards. “Driver” (2018), his first full-length film, won the Israeli Critics Award. Indursky also wrote and directed the series “Autonomies,” which won Reflet d’Or for best international television series at the Geneva International Film Festival.  Indurksy’s short film “The Cantor and the Sea” won the best director prize in the 2015 Jerusalem Film Festival.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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