By Susan Kandell Wilkofsky
In the midst of my self-quarantine, I presumed I had some spare time to begin my much-needed closet clean-out. Apparently, my closets will have to wait — there are television programs and movies to watch! Sharon Wisch-Ray, editor and publisher of the Texas Jewish Post and staff announced they will continue to report on all the news of interest to the Jewish community. And luckily, that includes TV and film review!
“Unorthodox” is a four-part miniseries inspired by Deborah Feldman’s autobiography, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” published in 2012.
Directed with great sensitivity by Maria Schrader, this dramatic series tells the story of a young woman’s journey of self-discovery. Esty Shapiro (Shira Haas) leaves her extremely tight-knit, ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn for Berlin, where her estranged mother lives. While seeking freedom, she meets a young musician who aids her in her quest for a new life abroad.
Shira Haas is marvelous, her expression vacillating between curiosity and fear. But her courage and perseverance bring her to a place where she can be free. Her new life, both liberating and terrifying is mitigated by the power of music and the privilege of self-determination.
Where to Watch: NETFLIX – in Yiddish with English subtitles
Runtime: Four episodes / 55 minutes per episode
‘Code of Silence’
When Menachem (Manny) Wak was a boy growing up in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia his behavior started to change. By his own admission, he was not listening to teachers plus getting into trouble. More than 20 years later, he broke his silence and went public with his story of sexual abuse by a security guard who was employed by the yeshiva he attended.
“Code of Silence” directed by Danny Ben-Moshe, follows the story of Manny — who is now a secular Jew — and his father, still an actively Orthodox Jew and the toll it’s taken on the family. He believed he had a responsibility to speak publicly, but the community did not see it in exactly the same manner. The hour long documentary is a powerful story of injustice, but also a story of hope; encouraging others to speak up or seek aide if needed. Perhaps it will also erase the stigma faced by the families and victims of sex abuse. “Code of Silence” won Australia’s top documentary prize, the Walkley Award in 2014.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Runtime: 57 minutes
Documentary recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over.
‘World On Fire’
“World on Fire,” is a seven- episode series which began airing on PBS this past Sunday as part of Masterpiece. The program is an ambitious and riveting World War II drama told from an unusual perspective; through the eyes of ordinary people and their interwoven stories. It’s a wonderful ensemble cast including Helen Hunt, Lesley Manville, Sean Bean, Jonah Hauer-King and Zofia Wichlacz. It’s interesting to note that Jonah Hauer-King was raised Jewish; his maternal grandparents fleeing Warsaw in the 1930s.
Watch on-air, online, or with the PBS Video app, available for free download. Want to watch all the episodes at your own pace? Starting April 5, you can binge the entire series with a PBS Passport. KERA Passport is a benefit for members offering extended, on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming, like “The Great British Baking Show,” “Victoria, Grantchester,” “Downton Abbey,” specials from “Nature,” “Austin City Limits,” and much more. If you’re a member, activate Passport to watch even more episodes of your favorite shows on your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can watch Passport programming on a variety of platforms: kera.org, pbs.org, the KERA apps for iOS/Android, the PBS Video apps for iOS/Android, AppleTV, Roku and Chromecast.
Where to Watch: PBS
Runtime: Seven episodes / 57 minutes per episode