While I’m nowhere near as orthodox as I used to be I still care about my whacky Jewish faith. And it really pisses me off when TV – generally US TV – gets my religion totally fucking wrong.
Case in point – Nurse Jackie. Now I really enjoy the show, the characters, the ongoing drama. (Eddie Falco, in particular, is fantastic). After Jules and I get the kids in bed, a couple of episodes of Nurse Jackie is how we unwind.
Last night we watched an early episode of Season Three. Because the show is set in New York, it’s expected for there to be an episode with an Orthodox Jew story-line. Because Chasidic Jewry in particular is so insular and their traditions so cwaaaazzzyyy (I mean look at those funny hats and facial hair), writers (even Jewish writers) see them as a great source of drama and conflict.
In this particular episode of Nurse Jackie a woman, who we never see, is admitted to All Saints (the hospital where Jackie works). She has internal bleeding and needs surgery. However, the ultra orthodox husband is adamant that his wife be moved from All Saints to Beth Israel.
Now I want to be clear here. His wife has internal bleeding. It’s made clear that it would be dangerous to move her. Life threatening even. And yet the husband whinges and whines that she must be moved.
No explanation is given as to why he wants her moved. The implication is that the husband, because he’s a cwaaaaazzzzy Chasid, wants his wife treated by Jewish Doctors (possibly male Jewish Doctors). Also implied is that being treated in a Catholic hospital would be tantamount to eating pork.
It would take a barely competent writer two minutes of research to know why the husband’s reaction goes against all forms of Judaism. Yes, even the ultra Orthodox cwwwwaaazzzy one’s with the big hats and the facial hair.
It’s called Pikuach Nefesh and it’s the Jewish Law which says that if a person’s life is being threatened then nearly all other Jewish laws are put on hold. The famous example is if I’m on a desert island and I’m facing starvation and the only food source is wild boar I can eat the wild boar to survive.
This is not a controversial Jewish Law. Yes, there’s arguments around the fringes about what constitutes life threatening, and there are also exceptions to the Law (if someone puts a gun to your head, forcing you to shoot another person, you’re meant to take the bullet) but the point is that Pikuach Nefesh is a hard and fast rule that Orthodox husband would have been aware of. And by asking that his wife be moved, even though it might actually threaten her life, he was directly contravening that rule.
So what do you get? You get a cwaaazzzzyyy Jew showing how his orthodoxy takes precedence over the life of his wife who he repeatedly says he love. All just for a few minutes of drama (this C-story barely features in the episode and you sort of wonder what the point of it was).
Worst of all is this fucking awful scene where Nurse Jackie checks on the husband who she finds in the Chapel contemplating his navel.
That’s right, the Chapel. With all its Jesus and Virgin Mary iconography. A place that a Jew is expressly forbidden to visit (mostly due to the iconography and Jewish Laws around idol worship). So Chasidic orthodox husband wants to rip his wife out of a Catholic hospital but is happy to sit forlornly in a Chapel. Probably staring at Jesus.
When people belittle the cultural appropriation argument, when they say that cultural appropriation is a symptom of the rabid Left looking to censor white people from writing about other places and other cultures, I think about examples like this one. I don’t have a problem with US drama depicting orthodox Jewry. But fuck me, it takes five minutes and a chat with your Rabbi friend to get it right. The thing is that so often people get it wrong.
And it’s offensive.
So Nurse Jackie writing team I’m not angry, I’m just very disappointed.
Mirrored from The Hysterical Hamster.