The Lighter Side! Women of Shtisel

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The Lighter Side! Women of Shtisel

Brigit Grant’s little bit of this and little bit of that...with the Shtisel women

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Shtisel women zoom
Shtisel women zoom

I was mid-way through my intended column for this week when I received a surprise WhatsApp invite to a Zoom meet with the ‘Women of Shtisel’.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I typed furiously to the series’ head honcho, producer Dikla Barkai and promptly joined Giti (Neta Riskin) Elisheva (Ayelet Zurer) Libbi (Hadas Yaron) and Ruchami (Shira Haas) for a Temple Emanu-El chinwag about our favourite Israeli TV series.

Well, it’s certainly my favourite and global reaction suggests a show with unfeigned dialogue, virtuoso performances and no sex has an audience.

With the absence of any hand-holding, Shtisel could also be the definitive lesson in social distancing drama, I thought, as I Zoomed in with dynamic Dikla who was alongside Neta and Hadas in a shared square, in which they giggled about baking.

Shira Haas relaxing with Unorthodox co-star Amit Rahav

“Hadas has taken cooking to the next level,” revealed Neta about the Fill the Void star, who won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 and was  last seen looking uncertain beside Akiva in the finale of
season two.

“I’m feeling quite jealous of  Neta and Hadas being together,” said Shira, now modelling ear-length curls since the shorning for her role as Esty in Unorthodox.

Evidently the ‘hair-shaving’ scene in the Netflix drama was done on the first day of shooting and although Shira cried, it helped her to delve into the role.

Aged 17, my own experience of a similarly severe cut almost resulted in a hairdresser’s murder, but then actors are willing to suffer for their art.

Dikla Barkai and Hadas Lahar with the Shtisel men

The Shtisel cast are likely to suffer when filming for season three starts in July (Baruch Hashem), and Dikla has concerns about the impact of holy heat on glued payot and heavy clothing, which doesn’t seem to bother the real Charedim or their beards.

Until the catastrophe of Covid-19,  Shtisel hadn’t been too problematic for Dikla, barring the death of actress Hanna Rieber, who played Shulem’s mother in season one.

Shira Hass as Ruchami and Neta Riskin as Gitti

“The decision to keep the character and cast another actress in season two was really difficult, but the scripts were written and so tender  it was impossible not to, and Leah Koenig had been Hanna’s close friend, which is why she agreed to take the part.”

Replaying scenes (spoiler alert) of Giti accepting her husband Lippe’s absence in Argentina and Akiva’s first date with widow Elisheva got the women talking about the significance of “what isn’t said” in Shtisel. “Maybe we talk too much and hurt too much in real life,” said Neta.

Hadas Ladar as Libbe with Akiva(Michael Aloni)

“Ruchami can’t just accept her father and stay silent like her mother,” responded Shira. “I think personally we should talk about stuff.”

“Ruchami has nothing to lose,” Neta fired back at her screen daughter. With Ayelet, who now lives in LA, bemoaning men for writing about women, and Hadas disliking her character’s objection to Akiva’s art aspirations, the Shtisel females proved to be fabulously feisty and clearly very close.

“We are in touch all the time,” they said in unison – and I long to be part of their gang.

“Our writers think that all the women in Shtisel are stronger than the men,” confirmed Dikla. And I dare you to disagree.

Hadas Yaron in Fill the Void

Summer glitz

Typically, June is the month when we take out the beach bags and shake off the sand from seasonal accessories.

Davidov London’s pearl earrings

But with most holidays taking place in our gardens, is a bracelet for the balcony really necessary?

Of course it is, and there is even a reason to acquire new pearl earrings for those recurring online meetings. Jewellery jazzes up a Zoom, and with weekly batmitzvahs, birthstone bracelets in named gift boxes are essential, as are pressies for the missus, so show him it all at


With so much to distract us, the final season of Modern Family was largely overlooked in Blighty.

Ty Burrell aka Phil Dunphy with my Modern Family

The show’s creator, Steve Levitan, was our Passover cover star last year and, having been fortunate enough to visit the set and meet the cast, I shed a tear at the Dunphy-Pritchett farewell.

They were as dysfunctional as any Jewish family I know, thanks to the show’s many Jewish writers who had no qualms, including a barmitzvah and many Yiddishisms over the 10-year run. If only Friday Night Dinner was as bold.


Push Over Purchase

I took one look at Trinny Woodall’s make-up on Facebook and now she won’t leave me alone.

Miracle Blur in a tiny pot

She and her sidekick Susannah Constantine were memorably aggravating as the hosts of What Not To Wear when they ribbed oversized women about their sartorial choices.

But I’m weak, and Trinny’s taunts about lines and bags made me purchase her Miracle Blur in a tiny pot (£26), which “untraceably… fills in and irons out wrinkles”.

It doesn’t on my face, as I now require a dozen whipped egg whites to freeze my frown. What Not To Buy could be the name for her Facebook show.

Fiddler on the Hoof

Topol the only Tevye

I’m not a fan of remakes, particularly when the original is beyond compare, as in the case of Norman Jewison’s Fiddler On The Roof (1971).

The musical film starring perfectly cast Chaim Topol is about to be remade by Thomas Kail, who directed Hamilton, with a screenplay by Steven Levenson, who wrote Dear Evan Hansen. There is no denying their pedigree – but if there is a rich man, it’s Topol, and I don’t think anyone else could fill his worn-out milkman’s boots. A blessing on his head.


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