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Fire Dance: “A Haredi version of Succession” Goes Global

The Israeli series from renowned Orthodox creator Rama Burshtein-Shai breaks the barriers of Haredi representation on screen, creating a unique, star-studded affair.

Shlomo Gelber / Yes Studios / ChaiFlicks
Shlomo Gelber / Yes Studios / ChaiFlicks

From Srugim to Shtisel and Unorthodox, Israeli TV series exploring the Ultra Orthodox world have been popular for quite a while. Fire Dance, the newest Israeli TV drama now streaming (with English subtitles!) on Jewish streaming platform ChaiFlicks, continues that tradition.

But one might ask — Ma Nishtana — is this one different from all the others? The answer is, yes — and in all the best ways.

Showrunner Rama Burshtein-Shai: An Outsider Looking In

Fire Dance creator Rama Burshtein-Shai brings quite a unique perspective to this tale. The female Orthodox filmmaker — already an odd bird in an industry dominated by secular Israelis — is also one of Israel’s most successful filmmakers, having helmed two internationally acclaimed hits in The Wedding Plan and Fill The Void.

Understandably, her first foray into the world of television has been highly anticipated. And with production powerhouse yes Studios — the team behind Fauda and Shtisel — bringing the series to life, Fire Dance delivers on that promise in stunning fashion.

Intentionally or not, the series takes the concept of austere, muted series about Haredi life and turns it on its head. According to showrunner Burshtein-Shai, the series is all about exploring the delicate tensions between passion, fulfillment, and faith.

Credit: Gideon Sharon / Yes Studios / ChaiFlicks

Fairytale Haredi world, Succession style

And what is the central tension of Fire Dance exactly? As their ultra-Orthodox community faces a change of leadership, troubled teen Feige and charismatic heir to the throne Rabbi Nathan challenge its strict customs even further. As the battle for the throne prolongs, so do the pressures facing the two lead characters.

Stamped “A Haredi version of Succession” by critics, the series deftly works within the codes of this imagined community to illuminate universal truths that go well beyond its central characters living in a dreamlike version of Tiberias.

The two main characters, Feige and Nathan, serve as parallel interlocutors; While Feige’s coming-of-age struggles lead her to desire a closer relationship with Nathan, the Rabbi’s own struggles — with his past, his family’s demands and the community’s expectations — set them on a magnetic, back-and-forth dynamic that carries throughout the season and until its eventual apex. Add to that a stylistic, almost arty cinematography and Burshtein-Shai’s masterful eye trained by years of cinema-making, and the result is as enchanting as it is loaded with interpersonal drama.

Image Credit: Yes Studios / ChaiFlicks

Already a celebrity and one of Israel’s most well-known actors domestically, Yehuda Levi is set for his big international break with the lead role of Rabbi Nathan. And with other roles in Keshet’s primetime drama A Body That Works and upcoming Netflix action title The Mind — it’s due time that Levi becomes recognized for his talents outside of Israel.

Opposite Levi’s Rabbi Nathan, newcomer Mia Ivryn stuns in her first major acting role after having finished her mandatory service in the IDF. Noa Koler rounds out the cast with a seriously dramatic turn as Feige’s mother. While audiences are accustomed to seeing Koler as hopelessly optimistic supermarket manager Shira in leading hit comedy series Checkout — known in Israel as Kupa Rashit, and also streaming internationally with ChaiFlicks — her supporting role in the series showcases her versatility as an actress.

Israeli TV drama series Fire Dance streams exclusively on Jewish streaming platform ChaiFlicks in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 

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