Mekimi

The series follows a young secular Israeli woman on her journey from leading a fast-paced life as a TV show host to becoming a newly Ultra Orthodox bride-to-be.

VIEWER'S GUIDE

Mekimi 

One season, five episodes (2013) | 45 minute episodes (except episode 1, 57 minutes)

Available on Amazon Prime

Directed by: Ram Nehari
Based on a novel of the same name by Noa Yaron-Dayan

Grade Level: 11th grade and up

Themes

  • Secular vs. religious lifestyle 
  • Family/generational relationships
  • Search for meaningful existence
  • Path of spiritual awakening

Synopsis

The series follows a young secular Israel woman on her journey from leading a fast-paced life as a TV show host to becoming a newly Ultra Orthodox bride-to-be. The narrative conveys her doubts and anxiety of the transition, initiated by her boyfriend, to a newfound life and the effect it has on her secular family and friends. The 5-episode series, based on a true story, is an interesting view into the schism between secular and Ultra Orthodox Israelis, and echoes the story of many celebrities, artists, and musicians. Chazara B'teshuvah—a phenomenon that started in the 1960s and followed with a big back-to-religion movement in the 1990s.

The real life couple are Noa Yaron-Dayan (who wrote “Mekimi,” an autobiographical novel in 2007 on which the series is based) and her husband Yuval Dayan (who became a religious leader). The story takes place in the mid-1990s.

Hot off the press, in a twist worth mentioning, the couple recently divorced and Yuval Dayan (who also has a role in the series) has turned away from Orthodoxy (chazara beshe’ela, “falling from faith,” or literally “returning in question”) in June 2019, 25 years later. 


Chazara B'teshuvah 

The term refers to secular Jews who have “returned” to their faith with a newly observant dedication to strict Orthodoxy, and is interchangeable with the term ba’al teshuvah, used more widely in the United States.


Articles:

“Ba’al Teshuvah: The Next Generation” by Dana Kessler (Tablet Magazine)

Ba’al Teshuvah (My Jewish Learning)

Reb Nachman of Bratslav (My Jewish Learning)

“Rolling with the Na Nachs, the Most High-Spirited and Newest Hasidic Sect” (Haaretz)

About the Series: “Why a Non-Believer Makes a TV Show About Newly Religious Jews” (Haaretz)

Season 1, Episode 1: “Love Won’t Save Us”

The first episode sets the stage for the life change the couple is about to undertake. Alma, a star of a TV children’s program, hosts a jovial Purim television special despite the Jewish terrorist attack in Hebron that day. She meets her new roommate, Ben, a filmmaker who calls himself an anarchist, and they form a deep bond. They travel to Sinai together where they witness the death of a young woman from drug overdose during a rave party. Brenner, a friend of Ben, convinces him to attend a lesson by Rabbi Daniel, a Bratslav follower. The road to Ben’s Chazara B’teshuvah is commencing. (Source: Israeli Film & Filmakers)

The title of the series is a reference to a verse from Psalms: 

“Raising me up from the dust, from the garbage pile God will raise the needy.”

מְקִֽימִ֣י מֵעָפָ֣ר דָּ֑ל מֵֽ֝אַשְׁפֹּ֗ת יָרִ֥ים אֶבְיֹֽון׃

(Psalms 113:7)

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Questions for Episode 1

 

1. In what ways is the name of the series connected to the plot?

2. The opening of each episode depicts Alma walking in a snowy expanse from one side of the screen to the other. What might this image symbolize or evoke?

3. In what ways is the name of the episode (“Love Wont Save Us”) significant?

4. When facing difficult situations or events, people react in different ways. What are some of the ways in which Alma, Ben, and Brenner are affected by events? Give examples and explain.

5. Do you know people who made significant changes in their lives and/or behaviors? What prompted the change?

 

Questions for the Complete Series

1. What do you think are the pros and cons of becoming Ultra Orthodox? What do the parents and friends of the couple think?

2. What are the Jewish lifestyles or religious practices that best fit you and your family?

 

Two Tragic National Events Take Place in the Series

In Episode 1, on Purim 1994, a Jewish religious extremist (Baruch Goldstein) perpetrated the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre in Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounding another 125.

In Episode 5, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was fatally shot in November 1995, after attending a peace rally held in Tel Aviv’s Kings Square in Israel, by an Israeli Haredi ultranationalist named Yigal Amir, who opposed Rabin's peace initiative.

1. In what ways are these two events significant to the plot and to the characters’ reactions and behaviors?

2. Were all Israelis’ reactions in accord about these events? Why? Explain.

3. How does the protagonist (Ben) real life’s inspiration recent “Falling from Faith” (Chazara Beshe’ela) shed an additional light on the series? What do you think?