Srugim

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Srugim (Hebrew, סרוגים; lit., “knitted”) is an Israeli television drama that debuted on June 23, 2008  (last episode May,  2010), and deals with the lives of five modern Orthodox Jewish single men and women (two men and three women) in the Katamon section of Jerusalem,  from the national religious sector.

It has been compared to the American TV series, “Friends,” except that it is not played for laughs like the American series, and does not use a laugh track.

The title comes from the type of knitted Kippah (skullcap) – “kippa sruga” – that is worn by members of this modern orthodox group.

The show, described as a “A Modern Orthodox Friends,”

…resembles “Friends” in the manner that it revolves around a young group of friends who are trying to establish themselves in the workplace while searching for love. This group of friends includes a graphic designer, an accountant, a biblical studies major, a grammar teacher, and a doctor. What makes the show unique is the fact that all of these friends are observant modern orthodox Jews. Many episodes feature Shabbat meals, men and women davening, and men wearing kippot. The show features the struggles that some of the characters have being religious while trying to date or make a living.

Although a number of areas in Jerusalem appear in the series, its focus is Katamon, the part of Jerusalem referred to as “The Swamp” (bitza in Hebrew), because of the large number of singles there.  Srugim creator Laizy Shapiro explains the derivation of this term from the idea that Judaism is rooted in family and community,  so that singles somehow “don’t exist,”  as if they are lost in a swamp.

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Jeffrey Woolf, a Bar Ilan University expert on Orthodox Jewish portrayals in the media, explains why this series has become popular not only with the secular “TV-watching” community, but also with many members of modern orthodoxy:

It’s really the first time that the religious-Zionist community has been represented in a non-stereotyped way on television…. Religious characters are usually cartoon-like in their superficiality, either because of malice or because of ignorance….

He claims that the show is important for both the religious and secular elements, because while many of the modern orthodox viewers can finally see characters with whom they identity, it offers secular views accessibility to “an entire [religious] world that is normally inaccessible.

A number of writers note that the phenomenon of a growing number of Jewish singles in the religious community is one factor in the show’s popularity, because it is unprecedented in Jewish history, where marriages between religiously observant men and women traditionally occurred while both partners were young. Many reasons contribute to this change, including the financial ability of women to live on their own, rather than under the “protection” of their husband, but whatever the reasons, this change has created many new questions and challenges in their lives.

Yair Rosenberg, writes in the Jewish Review of  Books that the program has become “Israeli pop culture phenomenon.” However, while he agrees that the show has become extremely popular among members of both the religious and non-religious communities, there have been some detractors, including Rabbi Shlomo Aviner:

One prominent Religious Zionist rabbi went so far as to place the show under a religious ban, citing the questionable conduct of various dati characters on the show. “There is bad language and licentiousness. It is not enough to be ‘negiah’ [to observe the prohibition against touching someone of the opposite sex], and this is also not always followed [on the show]—one needs purity and modesty,” he wrote.

The Jewish Week writes that the show “is attracting a growing audience here in the States,” and it is being discussed in many forums, including Facebook .

The series won the 2009 Israeli TV Academy Award for best original drama series.

Creators

The series was created and is written by Eliezer (Laizy) Shapiro and Chava Divon, a graduate of the Ma’ale School of  Television,  Film and the Arts.   Shapiro also directs the series. Laizy Shapira, 34, spent his childhood in Philadelphia, where his father served as a shaliach of the Jewish Agency.

It was produced by Eitan Abut (supervising producer), with co-producers Jonathan Aroch and Dikla Barkai.  Original music was written by Ron Klein, with cinematography by Ram Shweky, film editing by Gilad Ariel and Tal Keller, and casting by Hila Yuval.

Source: Wikipedia

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