The Arty Semite

Reality TV Comes to Orthodox Suburbia

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
Malkah Winter has a natural passion for fillmmaking.

Malkah Winter feels the need to express herself creatively, and she comes by it genetically. The daughter of the late Yiddish theater owner and producer, Oscar Ostroff, Winter has been single-handedly directing, producing and editing Jewish Life TV’s new reality show, “In Over Our Heads.” The show aims to smash stereotypes surrounding suburban Orthodox Jews in the predominantly Jewish community of Sharon, Mass., whose lifestyle Winter, a 34-year-old mother of five, is intimately and personally acquainted with.

After being a stay-at-home mom for over a decade, Winter (who has had a lifelong interest in the arts but never studied filmmaking) picked up a video camera last November and convinced a small group of friends to allow her to document their day-to-day lives. She sees herself as following in her father’s footsteps, telling the stories of Judaism and Jewish life, only through the more contemporary media of television and the Internet.

“In Over Our Heads” is reportedly the most popular program on JLTV, which reaches 30 million homes in the US and will begin broadcasting in Canada this fall. Network executives picked the show up after catching its first episode, which Winter made at the local cable access studio. The show can also be seen on YouTube, where its first eight episodes have garnered a combined total of 20,000 views to date. JLTV has ordered another 26 episodes.

While viewers outside Sharon are supportively tuning in to see Winter and her friends Valerie Frank, Yitzi Cusner, Simcha Weinberg and Marc Hirsch struggle with and openly debate everything from marriage and parenthood to spirituality and religious hypocrisy, their neighbors have been less appreciative. Unused to viewing their community and lifestyle exposed in this way, they have confronted members of the cast, asking, “What is with this?!”

Winter loves Judaism and Torah and wants to share them with others, but at the same time, she says, “I can never just accept what someone tells me.” With “In Over Our Heads,” she has found an artistic voice for her Jewish identity. “I get to break it into pieces and then put it back together.”

Watch the first episode of “In Over Our heads:”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sharon Mass. TV, Reality TV, Oscar Ostroff, Malkah Winter, In Over Our Heads, Jewish Life TV, Television

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!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • 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.