Cast of Netflix series visits Temple Israel

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Members of the Netflix original series Shtisel attend a panel hosted by Temple Israel and the UJA-Federation of New York (Photo courtesy of Michael Priest Photography)

The Netflix original series “Shtisel” centers on a fourth-generation ultra-Orthodox Jewish family living in Israel. The show’s glimpse into a tight-knight Jewish community piqued enough interest from American viewers that cast and crew members attended a panel hosted at Temple Israel in Great Neck last Thursday.

“It’s extremely entertaining and enriching,” said United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York Chief Marketing Officer Graham Cannon. “Though it may not be based on a true story per se, it gives people a chance to experience the way that other people live their lives.”

A partnership between the show and the UJA-Federation allowed Long Island residents to watch several clips from the series and take part in a Q&A after the screenings.  Cast members Doval’e Glickman, Ayelet Zurer and Neta Riskin, and co-producer Ori Elon were the show’s representatives on the panel.  

“The role I had on ‘Shtisel’ made me more satisfied than any other role I ever did,” said Glickman.  “Seeing the reception and how many citizens came out tonight is amazing.”

Glickman, who is known in the Israeli community for both comedic and dramatic roles, plays Shulem Shtisel, the patriarchal figure in the series.  Zurer portrays a twice-widowed woman named Elisheva Rothstein, while Riskin’s role is Giti Weiss, a mother of five. Though all actors on the panel were born in Tel Aviv, it was not until “Shtisel” that they began to learn about the ultra-Orthodox practices.

“It was a society that was strange to me when I was young,” said Riskin. “We had to learn blessings, Shabbat dinner and other orthodox aspects of the Orthodox community that many believe we all just know. I think events like this help to educate everyone about culture and religion.”

The UJA-Federation’s mission is to fund hundreds of local and global nonprofit organizations to tackle pressing issues head on, according to the UJA-Foundation website.  The goal of shaping the Jewish future is one that Cannon knows well, but he said that hosting events with prominent figures turns these local events into global calls to action.

“We all look to celebrities being some of society’s most influential figures,” said Cannon. “These events are for anyone and everyone to be a part of our wanting to shape the Jewish future in New York, and across the globe.”

Temple Israel was the most recent stop on the show’s panel tour, with prior events being held in Westchester and New York City.  The city event hosted by Temple Emanu-El gained so much attraction, tickets sold out in a matter of hours, and a second event was added, according to Cannon.  That show sold out in a matter of hours as well.

“Over 4,000 total seats for two events sold out, with lines stretching out and around the street corners.  I’d say that accurately displays the impact this show has on New York’s Jewish community,” said Cannon.

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