I rarely watch TV. At home, we don't have cable/sattelite, and so we have to make do with internet and DVD's. The only live Israeli TV that I encounter is while I am running at the gym.
I have to say that it is makes rather dismal viewing. The morning shows are quite boring. and the evening shows tend to be a variety of news, shallow reality shows, and "talk shows" (read "shout shows.") I don't know how our TV fares on the world scale, but it is pretty mind numbing.
But worse than that, our TV truly represents only a fraction of the population. Generally the anchor people are secular Israelis, generally Ashkenazi, thin, good looking (the women). Where are the Russians, the Ethiopians, the Haredim, the Arabs. I figure that Israeli TV represents about 20% of the Israeli population! (Yes, I do see Sivan Rahab-Meir on the morning show, and I know that there is Rav Beni Lau on Friday afternoons but that hardly appeals to the mainstream... anyway, who watches ch.1 anyhow?)
So imagine my surprise while running on the treadmill (Thursday morning) to see two interesting surprises.
The first was Avri Gilad, who is a great guy. He is funny and ecologically sensitive, and I like his atttudes on Galei Tzahal. He was interviewing the producer of a reality show called "The race to the Million" where couples do all sorts of challenges all over the world, and I guess that there is a NIS million prize. Apparently one of the challenges, in China, was to eat a concoction of all sorts of rather disgustung creatures; lizards and bats etc. Avri Gilad - not a Kippa wearing Jew, but clearly a proud one - challenged her again and again: "But we are Jews! Jews subjected themselves to inquisition rather than succumb to eating Non-Kosher, how can you do this?" He was quite relentless. The producer on the other hand, seemed unfazed and totally didn't grasp his concern. Anyhow, it was heartwarming to see how some secular people have an unabashed and deep Jewish sensitivity.
The other piece on TV was this ad for the cellphone company Celcom.
It depicts a girl from a religious kibbutz/moshav who has clearly moved in a rebellious direction, coming home to join her family. Again, even the scripwriters are clearly acknowledging an understanding of the complexities of religious and traditional families and their place in mainstream Israeli society.
Jewish tradition is growing in the mainstream media. We are seeing more kippot, more head-covering on women. This year, numerous leading music artists have recorded tracks and even entire albums, based upon Jewish themes. To my mind, this is just the start of a revival both of religion, and also the openness to see religious Jews enter the mainstream.
Yom Atzmaut Sameach!