When I contacted Tzippy Yarom-Diskind last week, she was awake at 3.30am Jerusalem time, working on building a website to give visibility to women like her: proud Orthodox Jewish women . What was the motivation? Diskind is part of a larger effort to give a voice to these women as a response to a new Netflix program called “My Unorthodox Life,” starring a woman, Julia Haart, who has left the Orthodox community of Monsey. , New York, declaring him a “fundamentalist.” Haart has left orthodoxy, but Diskind wants to show the women who happily stayed; women who entered the faith and those who were born into it.
Diskind explained to me why she and so many other Orthodox women share their stories of how they can be both religious and empowered. She said, “People have been talking over our heads for a long time. There have been several times in the past few years that we have felt like we are unfairly portrayed as ‘oppressed’, as if we cannot think for ourselves, as if we are not human beings. who are successful: wives, mothers, businesswomen, who can certainly think for ourselves, as if everything we do is because we have to. So the Netflix show is just the last straw – but that was the trigger. ”
In a review of the series, the Jewish Telgraphic Agency explains the origins of the title, which has become a popular topic for Netflix: “The title ‘My Unorthodox Life’ pays homage to the company’s hit, a 2020 Emmy winner, ‘ Unorthodox ‘, a series loosely based on the 2012 hit memoir of Deborah Feldman, who left the Hasidic community after getting married at 17 and having a son. This show was preceded by “One of Us,” a 2017 documentary chronicling the lives of three former Hasidic Jews, one of whom grapples with the aftermath of sexual abuse, as they struggle to adjust to the challenges of their new life.
All of these shows highlight the decision to leave the traditional observance. But that has left some wondering: instead of highlighting only those who are leaving, what about a show that shows an equally compelling and common decision to enter?
Orthodox Judaism, the strictest form of Judaism, is developing. Reporting on the most recent major survey of Judaism last year, the Wall Street Journal explained, “The Pew Research Center study found that the Jewish population in the United States has grown to about 7.5 million, from about 6.4 million in 2013, when the organization conducted a similar survey. But the Reformed and conservative branches of Judaism, which have long been the dominant Jewish movements in the United States, are showing signs of faltering. ”
It is not just stricter forms of Judaism that are attracting new and younger adherents. In response to a new papal decree released last week restricting the more conservative Latin Mass, young Catholics drawn to the faith by its more traditional appearance have rallied in its defense. A lot described the popularity of traditional service among young families and new converts and was a beautiful explanation of why it was so appealing:
FWIW seeing a Tridentine mass in 2015 was an important catalyst in my conversion. It offered the kind of beauty and transcendence that I just didn’t see in the world or the previous Protestant services I attended.
– Sam Dorman (@DormanInDc) July 16, 2021
These anecdotal stories correspond to research on the popularity of the Latin Mass. While church attendance is on the decline among all Catholics, especially millennials and under, the Latin Mass is the exception, with 98% of its attendees being millennials or younger generations.
In a world devoid of depth and purpose, young people are increasingly drawn to what is old and meaningful. As religion and faith decline in America and the Western world, more traditional forms of faith are developing and adding adherents. Despite the fact that conservative religions demand a lot of observance in exchange for entry, young people are ready to make this commitment in exchange for the substance offered by traditional faith.
It’s a compelling story that is not told by our entertainment establishment, and the question is, why? The most cynical answer is the simplest: it’s just not a story they want to tell. It is much more salacious to portray religion as a cult rather than as a complementary component of the lives of millions of families across the country and around the world. The entertainment world doesn’t want to showcase a family that has chosen to enter the traditional faith; nor do they want to feature a big family that isn’t as flawed as the Duggars. None of this fits the negative narrative they want to tell about traditional faith or large families, so it’s a story that won’t be told. Rather, they choose to sensationalize and dramatize these counter-cultural conservative lifestyles, blurry the boundaries between fiction and reality on these so-called reality shows. Their agenda is clear and it’s refreshing to see the objects of their derision hit back.
Bethany Mandel is a contributor to Deseret News, editor of Ricochet.com, and contributor to the Washington Examiner blog and magazine.