An Eshet Chayil* in The Good Wife
By Sarah Breger
Every law and crime TV series has its requisite “super-Jew” episode, featuring members of the Orthodox Jewish community involved in some sort of wrongdoing. And the The Good Wife is no exception. The new CBS procedural drama starring Julianna Margulies as the wronged wife of a philandering and possibly corrupt former State’s attorney, found itself in a fictional Ultra-Orthodox community last night. In the episode “Unorthodox,” Margulies takes on the case of Hasidic couple, who is being sued for not fixing an
eruv pole that falls on their property on Shabbat. Confused? The eruv is an enclosed area (usually created by wire or poles) where observant Jews can carry on Shabbat. Since the couple were Sabbath observers, they wouldn’t use the phone to call someone to have it fixed—thus making them liable according to the plaintiff.
The plot itself is a little shaky but the show does a good job of documenting the community in a way that in neither patronizing or romanticizing. Hasidic author Mathue Roth served as an extra on the set for this episode, and over at My Jewish Learning he has been blogging about the experience. He also adds his opinion of the show’s authenticity since he is an actual Hasidic Jew:
All the women are wearing flats (correct) and dark tights (depends which neighborhood you’re in, but, okay, potentially correct) and long skirts, which definitely are Hasidic…although there’s something unspoken, something intangible about some long skirts that is Hasidic, and something about others that isn’t. I can’t tell you what it is. Maybe I’ve been Hasidic so long that I have some sort of Hasid–dar, like when I had a gay roommate and developed really good gaydar? But right now, I am ostensibly surrounded by Hasidim, and it ain’t goin’ off.
With this and the Jewtastic episode of Glee a few weeks ago, Jews are on a role this television season. Any chance of a Jewish plot line in The Office?
* an Eshet Chayil means a Woman of Valor in Hebrew and refers to the ideal Jewish wife described by King Solomon in Proverbs