Frum with Benefits: Israeli Television, Globalization, and Srugim’s American Appeal

  • Author(s): Shayna Weiss
  • When: 2016-04
  • Where: Jewish Film & New Media: An International Journal
  • Srugim (Yes, Channel 2) is a popular Israeli television series that ran for three seasons, from 2008 to 2012. The show focuses on a group of single Religious Zionists in their late twenties and early thirties who live in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, nicknamed “the Swamp” for its dense population of single religious Jews hoping to find spouses. Srugim examines the characters’ search for love and meaning amid the conflicting tensions of religious observance and secular mores. In addition to domestic success, the show has attracted a small but significant American following, which I argue is due to reasons of content and distribution. First among these is the show’s focus on love with religiously celibate characters. With a focus on dating in the “big city” of Jerusalem, Srugim normalizes Religious Zionist Jews by showing how delayed marriage affects Orthodox Israeli Jews. Second, the rise of digital television viewing enabled Srugim’s exposure to a wide audience in the United States by way of its availability on Hulu and Amazon Prime. Its cult success speaks to the possibilities of niche series using familiar genres to appeal to international audiences in a globalized television market.

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