Reality Show Sends Haredim into Radio Daze
In Israel, ultra-Orthodox contestants compete to become ‘The Spokesman’
The contestants in The Spokesman, one of Israel’s hottest new reality shows, look nothing like what you’d expect of the genre. They’re all men, most of them are short, and nearly all have thick beards. Not that it matters: No one will ever see their face.
That’s because The Spokesman is Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox reality show, and as such shuns the corrupting medium of television for the more heymische radio. Each week, its dozen or so participants compete for the ultimate prize, the right to become the haredi community’s liaison to the rest of the population, explaining its intricate needs and improving its overall public image. The task at hand is particularly acute as the Knesset debates the possibility of drafting haredi men en masse for the first time in Israel’s history. And the show’s such a hit with the haredi community that its participants have all become minor celebrities in their community.
The show’s dynamics are just like that of any other reality franchise—there are tasks, and one contender is voted off each week—but the black-hatted men vying for glory dislike the comparison to Israel’s other hit reality shows.
“This is not a reality show like Big Brother or The Amazing Race,” Itzik Bannon, 17, one of the contenders, said in an interview to the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv. “Over there [on secular TV], it’s just to get ratings and make some money off commercials… Here, there’s a cause. If you win, you become the spokesman and you go and promote the haredi public.” Also, he added, “the people [on this show] aren’t freaks.”
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.