Since its founding in 2007, Jew in the City has been fighting to change negative perceptions about Orthodox Jews. This past March, we launched JITC Hollywood Bureau to advocate for authentic and human depictions of Jews in Hollywood. This documentary was made in collaboration with PhilmCo Media and is the first part of a three part film laying out Hollywood’s mistreatment of Jews. The first part focuses on the Orthodox Jewish community. Part two will focus on antisemitic tropes and caricatures of secular Jews, and part three will highlight the erasure of Jews of color.
The project contains interviews with prominent Jews, including TV writer Rob Kurtz and Dara Horn, award-winning author who most recently wrote “People Love Dead Jews.” Some recent examples of negative Orthodox Jewish portrayals on television came from NBC’s Nurses and Netflix’s My Unorthodox Life. “While ex-Orthodox stories could be worthy of exploration from time to time, we’re a tiny people and the overrepresentation of observance as a thing to leave sends a really clear message that the way out is the only way for the Jew to complete him or herself,” Allison Josephs, JITC’s founder, says in the documentary.
Mendy Pellin, a Chabad Hasidic comedian, takes the importance of this work to a much more serious and crucial level. He explains that the problem actually goes much deeper than just a positive portrayal on-screen — it comes down to saving Jewish lives. “It’s not just, ‘Oh it would be nice if we looked good’…no, there is death and violence that ultimately comes from othering a group of people.” The film then goes to show the uptick in antisemitism that has been on the rise recently and how dangerous it is now to be Jewish.