After a year of controversy over its content after a promotional clip was released, it was finally cleared for showing on the country's public station, Channel 1. The first episode appeared on November 7.
Written by Natalie Marcus and Asaf Beiser, the show asks questions about everything, from the Bible to Ben Gurion to the Ashkenazi leadership. Their approach is to go into the texts and make you think. They say that they give all their subjects a critical look, but they're not attacking, just giving the story a fresh, modern look.
As Esther Kustanowitz wrote in The Jewish Daily Forward,
As of press time three episodes have aired; more than a year after the promo brouhaha, the content of the show continues to stir the pot, satirizing everyone from Abraham to Eichmann and skewering Jewish historical events ranging from the giving of the Ten Commandments to the raid on Entebbe. And if a sketch about a terrorist hijacking seems subversive, just wait until you see the sketches about Yigal Amir, who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994. (These sketches are not currently available with English subtitles.)
But beyond the sensational aspects of these sketches, there is a deep passion for uncovering tradition and taking ownership of Jewish history. “Traditionally, there is a separation between the secular and religious,” Marcus says. “They [the religious] have the ownership on this story, but they are our stories as well. This is our heritage and no reason we can’t deal with and dig into the material of what made us, our DNA. It’s time for secular people to own the stories and tradition again.”
This call for secular reclamation of Jewish identity and heritage is part of a national trend in Israel. In Jerusalem, the New Spirit youth movement is working to transform Jerusalem into a pluralistic and creative community. Tel Aviv, the stronghold of secular Israeli life, now offers beachside Friday night services by Beit Tefillah Israeli and course offerings at Alma, a secular yeshiva (founded by now-Knesset member Ruth Calderon). In these and other spaces, today’s young secular Jews reclaim their identity, and see Judaism as part of their heritage, even if their mode of connection would never get an Orthodox stamp of approval.Here is one of the episodes that have been released with English subtitles. In it, Moses has just delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the Sinai desert. As might be expected from a nation that later produced many talmudic commentators and eventually lawyers, the people aren't accepting the new laws without asking for clarifications and pointing out contradictions and inconsistencies in them. You may have to watch it a few times to grasp all of the nuances, but it's worth doing, and it's really funny.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
The promo that started the controversy is 50 seconds long, and it's Hebrew without English titles. We're including it below for our readers who speak Hebrew. Even if you don't, it will give you some understanding of why it was considered controversial.