Bintel Blog

Big Love's Resident Kibbutznik

By Nathaniel Popper

  • Print
  • Share Share
“Big Love,” which follows the trials and tribulations of a polygamous family in suburban Utah, is one of the most probing, unflinching takes on religion in America. But it took two whole seasons before we got a Jewish character on the show.

The first appearance came in the first episode of the third season, which debuted this week. The character in question was not some strange caricature, as outwardly Jewish television characters often are, wearing yarmulkes or speaking with a Yiddish inflection. True to HBO’s interest in Israel — see the Forward story about “In Treatment” and “A Touch Away” — “Big Love” presented us with Ladonna, the Israeli wife of a Native American. The character, played by the Israeli actress Noa Tishby, was a beautiful, abrasive woman of the world who showed no shame in grilling the main characters on their polygamy and beliefs about Native Americans — forcing them to renounce the Mormon church’s old beliefs. This is the sort of tolerant, intolerant Israeli that is familiar to anyone who has been to Tel Aviv, and she shone like some strange gem in the Utah desert landscape of the show.

Ladonna, who is on the episode helping her Native American husband negotiate a casino deal, was only on screen for a single scene, but she clearly made an impression, sparking online chatter about where she came from and what she represented; was she Native American or Middle Eastern, commenters wondered. If her accent and demeanor didn’t give it away, the writers left no question about her heritage with her lines about time on a kibbutz and the meshuga ways of fundamentalist Mormons.

It would appear that she captivated the producers enough that they placed her in a number of upcoming episodes. This could get interesting.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Noa Tishby, HBO, Big Love

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.