By Lior Zaltzman, JTA
Season four of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was just as Jewy as the ones that came before it—with bar mitzvah scenes, lots of Yiddishisms, Jewish foods and contemplations about the existence of G-d.
The Amazon Prime show about a Jewish standup comedian played by Rachel Brosnahan has consistently been one of the most Jewish shows on TV, despite the controversy about the fact that its star isn’t a Jew.
In almost every season, protagonist Midge Maisel visits a very Jewish location. In season two, it was the Catskills and the Jewish resort area famously known as the “Borscht Belt,” where the Maisels and the Weissmans enjoyed some much-needed R&R. In season three, Midge visited the Jewish retiree capital of the world—Miami. Season four saw Midge ambush her family while they were visiting the Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood of Coney Island.
Now that “Maisel” is filming its fifth and final season, it looks like the show could be pulling out all the stops and finally sending Midge on a visit to Israel. A current casting call circulating for Jewish actors to fill in as extras an “agrarian fieldwork scene” says that the scene takes place in Israel.
The filming itself, however, will take place around New York, where the rest of show is filmed — “likely” on Long Island, the casting call notes.
Where could an agrarian Jewish field work scene take place in the 1960s? Likely a kibbutz.
Some quick kibbutz history: They are Israeli communal living settlements where everything is shared—from meals to child-rearing responsibilities (they famously had children’s quarters where all families’ kids stayed together until the 1970s) to labor, property and investments. The first kibbutz was founded in 1909, and they exist in Israel to this day, albeit in smaller numbers. As the “Maisel” callout suggests, they used to be mostly “agrarian settlements,” but nowadays, only a minority of kibbutzniks work in agriculture.
The 1960s was a great time to visit an Israeli kibbutz. It was a period of prosperity, and kibbutz members enjoyed outsized representation in Israeli parliament, growing modernization and improved standards of living.
American Jews also started volunteering at kibbutzim at that time, as a summer or experience or a time away from college or a job. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders volunteered at kibbutz Shaar Haamakim, near Haifa, back in 1963.
Maisel will not be the first show to visit a kibbutz: In season three of “The Nanny,” Fran Fine revealed that she lost her virginity to a strapping Israeli man while volunteering at a kibbutz (yes, there’s a flashback scene).