Popular satire TV show takes on the Torah
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Biblical humor

Popular satire TV show takes on the Torah

'Eretz Nehederet' pokes fun at secular, religious Israelis with new Orthodox character played by comedian Shani Cohen

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Jews are often known as the People of the Book, and now “Eretz Nehederet,” Keshet’s satire news show poking fun at anything Israeli, is taking on the Bible. Yes, that book.

Comedian Shani Cohen is Sivan Rahav-Meir, a religious writer and speaker who is dressed modestly, with a wig and hairband. She presents herself as a Torah commentator who wrote the book, “The Jewish Status,” and will introduce bits of Torah to the show.

“It scares you a little to talk about Judaism,” said the character Rahav-Meir, nodding knowingly.

It sure does. The Torah topic is another method of making fun of Israelis, and the standoffishness and discomfort that religious and secular Israelis can often have with one another.

It’s also a delightfully specific way of referring to the still popular shows about the weekly Torah portion, whether on the radio or TV, as well as written about in books that are sometimes bestsellers.

There are, of course, many puns integrated into the bit, including the word ‘parasha,’ which in Torah study refers to the weekly Torah portion that is read in synagogues, but is also the modern Hebrew word that refers to a news event or incident.

“We’ll learn something fresh, like the chapter of the week, not the news,” said Rahav-Meir. “What is a passage from the Torah, but a Tweet from God. A parasha is a story from God, just like my blog posts, just shorter.”

She spoke about this week’s Torah portion, Va’era, which tells about Abraham’s tent and his vision of hospitality, letting viewers know that it wasn’t like the tents used today, that pop up instantly and are popular for Israelis who camp out on the beach.

HaEl, she said, using God’s name in the Torah, refers to God, of course, not Bar Refaeli’s newborn daughter, whose name, Elle, was derided by many on social media.

See? Even the Torah can be used for satire.

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