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Enough with the ‘Ex-Orthodox’ Drama. Many Who Leave Learn to Separate Dysfunction from Judaism.

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26.08.2021

(JTA) — Last month, Pixar released “Luca,” the animated tale of a sea monster who becomes a boy on dry land. The protagonist must come to terms with the part of himself that makes him different, even reviled. And of course, by the end, Luca learns to love himself, bringing most of the townspeople along with him.

With this theme of an outsider’s journey to self-acceptance, “Luca” conjures up memories of so many movies we’ve seen before (think “Shrek,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Wonder”).

“Luca” fits in perfectly with the zeitgeist. Viewers are reminded that they, too, should work to love themselves, especially their parts that don’t conform to societal expectations.

But there is another genre of banal narratives that bucks the “Luca” trend. It’s the story of a character so freakish, from a place so abominable, that an ending of affirmation or reconciliation is not possible. The only choice for this misfit is to escape her world of origin as the audience cheers her on.

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This reviled place is known as Orthodox Judaism, and its captives have no possibility of learning to love and find meaning in what makes them different. According to Hollywood, their only chance to find happiness and fulfillment depends on escape.

The run of such TV shows and movies in recent years includes global hits such as the documentary “One of Us” and the scripted series “Unorthodox.” The latest is the Netflix reality show “My Unorthodox Life.” It tells the story of Talia Hendler, who walked out on her family right after her oldest daughter married seven years........

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