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An Israeli show’s peek into an unusual life

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Television has a delightful way of surprising us, creating programs we never expected and delivering them with a talent that neatly entraps our imagination. A current example is an endearing oddity called Shtisel, an Israeli series aimed at Israelis but appealing to people anywhere else, Jews and non-Jews. With its Hebrew and Yiddish dialogue subtitled in English for Netflix, it turns out to be part soap opera, part melodrama, and definitely addictive.

At times it also feels like a documentary, since it explores in a convincing way a fascinating and complicated world that’s normally private — a community in Jerusalem of Haredi (ultra-orthodox) Jews. At its core is the Shtisel family — the 62-year-old patriarch, Shulem Shtisel, his unmarried son, Akiva, and various relatives. Recently widowed, Shulem is the principal of a Talmud Torah school and knows it’s his duty to get Akiva suitably married. Akiva, well-educated in the Torah, is a moderately talented painter who dreams of a career in art. We follow him as he navigates the art........

© National Post