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Shtisel: terrific drama portraying religious absurdity

On Parliament Street, as often happens, I ran into a neighbour, Stephen. I love your blog, he told me. I’m always amazed at the diversity of people who follow my life. It’s not a big crowd – from 40 to 70 people a day, 350 to 450 a month, though when I travel the numbers go up a lot. 

I just checked the overview and saw a startling thing: March goes along with the usual numbers until March 24, when it jumps up to 349 readers. On March 25, back to 43. 

March 24, I’m writing about finding British relatives. Does that mean hundreds of new British relatives are checking in? Mystery.

Anna called this morning; she and the boys were doing a tour of favourite playgrounds on the east side, would I like to meet them? I certainly would. Hopped on my bike and off to the playground at Allen Gardens, a good one. The boys and I played our favourite game – Glamma as the big bad wolf monster chasing them with teeth bared – while Mama went to Loblaws and managed to deke into Joe Fresh and buy a spring sweater. And then they took off for another playground and I staggered home. 

The Rogers technicians came. A nice man with a rolling Russian accent checked out my systems inside and out, thinks he fixed what might have been the problem but will ask the maintenance guys to check also. My TV box, however, is now attached by cable rather than by wifi, so I hope that’s fixed. We are so dependent on these devices, more so than ever before — frantic without them.

I wrote about it to Brad who helps me with tech problems. He wrote back You know your Russian “cable guy” has routed your signals back thru a basement in Moscow. There will now be subliminal  pro Russian messages in the next Stanley Tucci episode. That’s how they do it.  


Last night, I watched 3 episodes of Netflix’s “Shtisel,” a dramatic series about orthodox Jews in Israel, but really about love and confusion and betrayal among human beings anywhere, though these ones live by a stringent set of rules and wear strange clothes and hats and hair. The actors are magnificent, so is the writing and filming – all excellent. Recommended. 

However, it’s hard not to chafe at the absurdity of the stifling religious regulations portrayed, the arranged marriages, the women in their wigs and scarves loaded down with hundreds of children. I’m not tolerant of conspicuous religiosity. I was at Riverdale Farm once when two busloads of schoolchildren arrived – one a group of Muslim children and one a group of Orthodox Jewish boys. The Muslim teachers were in niqab but the children looked like children, whereas the Jewish boys all had the payot, those ridiculous dangling side curls, and kippehs. I thought to myself, It’s child abuse to inculcate children into a cult so young and brand them as religious weirdos. How can they ever make friends with the outside world? They can’t, that’s the point, as “Shtisel” shows. 

Will turn on my fire and watch more tonight. And perhaps my TV is actually working now, routed through Moscow though it may be. Pleasure is. 



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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