Jews aren’t good proselytizers: circumcision, long prayer sessions, kosher dietary restrictions—not to mention a few thousand years of persecution—do not exactly endear Judaism to strangers. But what Jews are good at is writing comedy. In the quirky new web series Jewvangelist, creator and actor Becky Kramer explores what it would take for a young rabbi to recruit new members to the Jewish faith.
The show focuses on Rabbi Leah Levy’s campaign to refresh the family synagogue, which is rapidly losing members. After an almost too coincidental bicycling accident with a Mormon missionary, Levy (played by Kramer) realizes that promoting conversion is the key to replenishing her congregation. Levy is joined by her goofy cantor friend, and along the way they pick up a hodge-podge of friends from various religious backgrounds. Our heroine has a villain, of course—her ridiculously evil twin brother Asher, who is a rival Rabbi and wants to sell the building.
While the plotline may pique your interest, there are some flaws that should be addressed: the acting is weak at times, and the story relies on a number of absurd coincidences. There is an excessive amount of sexual innuendo and it tends to be a little out of place.
But all that is ok. After all, Jewvangelist is only a short web series. And what the show does right, it really does right. The writing is witty and the production quality is flawless. Each episode is about 12 minutes long, which means the entire six-part first season can be watched in a little over an hour. I rarely found myself heartily laughing at the jokes, but the characters are loveable and I found myself rooting for them to succeed. The show also promotes religious and cultural tolerance—a message we need to keep hearing.
As with many Jewish productions, you’ll laugh a little, cringe a little too, and wonder why you’re still there halfway through. But when it’s all over you’ll leave feeling warm and satisfied, even if you’re not entirely sure why.
Watch the first episode here:
(Image via Kickstarter)