Award-winning film Orthodoxed claps back at anti-Orthodox Netflix shows
While everyone else complains, Berel Solomon is actually fighting back
By Aviva Engel
[Montreal, QC, December 1, 2021] While the rest of Orthodox Jewry has been kvetching ad nauseam on social media about Netflix’s “inaccurate”, “monolithic” and “fundamentalist” portrayal of Orthodox Jews in such incendiary shows as Unorthodox and My Unorthodox Life, one guy actually decided to channel his irritation and take action offline —by fighting fire with fire.
His name is Berel Solomon and he’s on a mission to set the record straight about Orthodox Jews as the producer, director and star of the award-winning documentary Othodoxed. The 50-minute film chronicles Solomon’s gripping journey from drug dealer and prince of the nightclub business (rubbing elbows with music icon Drake), to Lubavitcher Hasid.
At a time when religious sensitivities are high and so many are craving a tangible response to the perceived antagonism, Othodoxed is a bold and poignant clap back at Netflix that’s at once compelling and highly-gratifying.
“The first time I watched Unorthodox on Netflix I was disturbed to my core,” says the Montrealer, raised as Ryan. “Netflix perverted our Torah, our community and our traditions —things that are so precious to me and millions of Orthodox Jews. My Unorthodox Life was more of the same terrible narrative —painting the community as oppressive and chauvinistic. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I decided to do something about it.”
A self-made CEO of a video production company and executive coaching firm, Solomon has come a very long way in his religious observance. Growing up in a traditional Jewish home where pork chops were served for Shabbat dinner, Solomon went to synagogue twice a year exclusively, and actually despised observant Jews.
“When I was growing up and I saw an Orthodox Jew walking to shul (synagogue) on Shabbat, I used to want to hit them with my car,” he recalls in the film. “I never knew God. Imagine living a life without knowing Him. How lost you could be.”
And lost he was indeed. At 13, Solomon became addicted to weed and soon after embraced entrepreneurial stints as both a drug dealer and impresario of the Montreal night club scene —yielding fortunes and gaining recognition across the country.
Then one evening, at the launch of his new reality show, Solomon crashed.
“I was so empty but on the outside it looked like I had everything,” he says.
In search of a life with meaning and purpose, Solomon explored various religions but was ultimately taken by the beauty of his own. Orthodoxed follows Solomon’s embrace of Hasidism, marriage (which was naturally facilitated by an Orthodox matchmaker), creation of a family, and overwhelming financial success as an executive who gives back to his community as a leading philanthropist.
“My Judaism never took away from me financially,” he maintains. “It only helped me in every aspect of my life.”
With the international release of Orthodoxed, the world can now see the inherent value, richness and joys of an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle — a lifestyle that Solomon and his wife now proudly impart to their four young children.
“I’ve been on both sides of the fence,” says Solomon. “I’ve experienced both worlds….The goal is to show the real story of our beautiful heritage.”