This essay explores the presence of Jewish ritual in the lives of otherwise nonobservant Jews, the Pfeffermans, in the Amazon original television series Transparent (Jill Soloway, USA, 2014–). The secular Pfeffermans must confront all the tragedies and challenges of any contemporary American family—divorce, miscarriage, promiscuity, death, sexual confusion, and illness—but without an established moral or religious compass that might provide them with guidance and comfort in overcoming or at least accepting these adversities. The Pfeffermans therefore represent the ambivalence and confusion of many assimilated contemporary American Jews as they seek a meaningful spirituality to help traverse a contemporary landscape replete with circumstances that test their courage, faith, and resilience. Transparent thus offers a window into a world where secular Jews (and even their rabbi) struggle—sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing—to create a spiritual world of Jewish ritual living that will provide them with an opportunity to lech lecha, to go forth as courageous adults into a challenging world.
"The Importance of Jewish Ritual in the Secular, Postmodern World of Transparent,"
Jewish Film & New Media: Vol. 5
, Article 14.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/jewishfilm/vol5/iss1/14