Srugim: Khovshi Katamon ("Katamon's Occupiers")   Rewatch 
October 10, 2017 11:48 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Srugim is a charming and addictive Israeli TV drama (Hebrew with English subtitles) that ran from 2008 to 20012, currently streaming for free on Amazon Prime. It follows the love lives of 5 religious friends living in Jerusalem as they struggle to find mates while dealing with questions about religious observance. "Srugim" means crochet and it refers to both the crocheted Kippahs the men wear and the religious ties that bind this group. "Katamon's Occupiers" refers to the area of Jerusalem where they live which is notorious for it's high concentration of unmarried. It is also sometimes called "the swamp."

Episode synopsis taken from Wikipedia: Yifat and Hodaya, who went to an all-girls school together, now share an apartment in Katamon, the hub of religious singles' social life in Jerusalem. Yifat meets Nati, a childhood friend who is now a successful doctor, and he introduces the two women to his roommate Amir, a recently divorced teacher. Reut, a high-earning accountant who is also a religious feminist, joins their small band. The five are all Religious Zionist, unmarried and in their late twenties or early thirties, and must cope with a society that expects people to marry early.

The religious question of the week is: Can a man use a woman's tefillin. The answer is a resounding "No" and Hodaya's date seems repulsed by the idea. Nati also says "No" because women and men do not pray or worship together.

I had lots of questions about the Sabbath and what constitutes work. The Jerusalem Shabbat Siren has blown when Yifat's phone rings. She has already lit the candles so she calls out to Hodaya to answer the phone. Why hasn't Hodaya's Shabbat started? Or for that matter, Nati who is the caller? Also the show will cover a lot of what constitutes "working" on Shabbat such as tearing off toilet paper, turning lights on and off, taking a taxi, but it seems that for the women serving, cleaning up, and washing the dishes does not constitute work.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy (7 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't watched the show yet (though I've been meaning to), but just as a heads-up: "work" is a very specific term of art in Judaism when you're talking about Shabbat; it refers specifically to actions derived from any of 39 activities specifically prohibited in the Mishnah, honed by millennia of rabbis arguing with each other. The Wikipedia page is a decent, though highly simplified, overview of what is an extremely complex topic of Jewish ritual jurisprudence.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:08 PM on October 10, 2017

Oh thank you, that's a great page. I would think you would have to be raised in the religion from childhood in order to remember all these complexities. For example you can peel a banana but you can't squeeze an orange.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:32 PM on October 10, 2017

This a great show! I'm an observant Jew, so I'm happy to answer any observance questions that come up.

As for the question of why Hodaya's shabbat has not started: shabbat is marked personally - so if Hodaya has not made the blessing yet then its not shabbat for her yet. You must make the blessing before sundown and once its sundown its shabbat for everyone, even if you have not made the blessing. The blessing is marked by lighting candles, and in orthodox custom is done by women.
posted by Maastrictian at 7:05 AM on October 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have seen every episode (and season) but it was a few years ago. I loved this show. Also loved Shtisel, a show about a Haredi father and son in Jerusalem but it's hard to find with English subs (and there's talk about an American remake with Natalie Portman).
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:30 AM on October 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Shtisel sounds interesting. Sadly I cannot pony up $99 for DVDs of the 2 seasons listed on Amazon and even if I could, I no longer have a DVD player.

I'm an observant Jew, so I'm happy to answer any observance questions that come up.

Thank you. Follow me, won't you, to episode 2.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2017

Ok, finally watched it! it really does draw you in, though it took a little to get used to the whole "filmed on a handheld camcorder circa 1998" look (though to be fair, the 90s lasted until like 2011 in Israel). As someone who's lived in Israel but who isn't particularly religious, it was interesting to see how much was familiar and how much was alien. A few notes that might go over the head of a non-Israeli (or less-versed-in-Judaism) viewer:

-The neighbor with the t'fillin had an American accent you could smash rocks on. Really, everything about her - accent, body language, general bearing - just screamed a very specific kind of Reform/Conservative olah chadashah (female new immigrant); I've met so many people exactly like her over the years that I was basically cracking up that entire scene.
-Regarding the kiddush scene: generally, the 'man of the house' would be the one to say blessings (which they touch on in the following "it's good to know the blessings in case your husband is off on reserve duty" scene), which would have made the question of which of the two men would say kiddush potentially awkward.

All in all I really dug it, and I'm excited to see where it goes.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:10 PM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just as an update for folks who were talking about it: Shtisel is on Netflix now. Subtitled, not remade.
posted by corb at 9:16 AM on May 15, 2019

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