November 20, 2018

The TV Series That Offers a Possible Solution to Israel’s Problems

“The drama series “Autonomies” has justly been hailed by critics during its recent six-part run on Israeli television. Its political premise is somewhat unlikely: In 2019, bloody clashes between Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (or Haredi) community and the rest of the country lead to a separation between the “Haredi Autonomy” in Jerusalem and the secular “State of Israel” (“The Zionists”), whose capital is Tel Aviv. Passing between these two entities requires a visa and border inspection, and the economic situation in the Haredi Autonomy is difficult.

The intention of writer-director Yehonatan Indursky – himself of Haredi origin, but now living in Tel Aviv – is not political. The TV series takes place roughly in our present and focuses on a few personal stories, primarily in the Haredi Autonomy. Jonah Broide, the protagonist (played by Assi Cohen), is a good-hearted, small-time crook who smuggles little things like porn videos and books by Thucydides and Sigmund Freud – often for the ultra-Orthodox rabbis who lead the autonomy.

The Haredi Autonomy’s head, Rabbi Alexander of Kreinitz (brilliantly portrayed by veteran actor-singer Shuli Rand), will use Broide for a kidnapping from the State of Israel, which ignites events that drive the series (I will not reveal what these here are to avoid spoilers).”

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