Fashion CEO who quit her 'ultra-Orthodox' Jewish upbringing documents life in Netflix series

Entertainment

Daily Mail 15 July, 2021 - 01:17pm 8 views

When is my unorthodox life coming to Netflix?

My Unorthodox Life is an American television miniseries announced by Netflix and set to premiere on July 14, 2021. The series centers on Julia Haart, a CEO of a modeling agency company and a former ultra-Orthodox Jew, as Haart and her family acculturate to their new non-religious lifestyle. wikipedia.orgMy Unorthodox Life

By Carly Stern For Dailymail.com

A fashion designer and entrepreneur who rubs elbows with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kendall Jenner is opening up about her decision to walk away from her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community where 'women were to be rarely seen and never heard' after 42 years. 

Julia Haart, 50, is the CEO of Elite World Group, designs the label e1972, and previously served as creative director for the luxury brand La Perla. But until 2013, when she left behind her ultra-religious upbringing and her husband of 23 years, none of that even seemed within the realm of possibility.

In Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' which premiered on Wednesday, Julia opens up about her childhood in the Haredi Jewish Orthodox community in Monsey, New York, getting married at 19, and ultimately leaving that life behind — and how she's adjusted and excelled in the secular fashion world.

'It's really hard to imagine that just a few years ago, I was living in an extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and then I just packed up and left,' she says in the series.

A leap: Julia Haart, 50, is the CEO of Elite World Group. She was raised in the Hasidic Jewish enclave of Monsey, New York, where she says 'women were to be rarely seen and never heard'

Making changes: The fashion designer and entrepreneur who rubs elbows with celebrities, but until 2013, when she left behind her ultra-religious upbringing and her husband of 23 years, none of that even seemed within the realm of possibility

Streaming: Her life is the subject of a new Netflix docu-series, 'My Unorthodox Life'

Julia was born Julia Leibov in Moscow, Russia, emigrating to the US with her parents at the age of three. 

When she was 11, they settled in Monsey, a suburb 35 miles north of New York City with the largest population of Hasidic Jews in the US outside of New York City, with nearly half of households speaking Yiddish or Hebrew.

'We lived in the 1800s,' she told the Los Angeles Times of her Yeshivish upbringing, explaining that modesty for women was paramount and access to outside information via television, radio, or even newspapers was was hard to come by.

She also described a sexist worldview wherein men studied the Torah but women did not 'because my mind wasn't capable of grasping it, you see. I was told, "Women’s minds are light" — "nashim da'atan kalos,'' she said.

'Where I lived, women were to be rarely seen and never heard. Our lives were governed by a web of modesty laws that required us to not only cover our bodies head-to-toe, but to behave comparatively, as well,' she told the New York Post. 'You grow up thinking you don’t matter at all.' 

But Julia's interests always pushed beyond the limits of what was deemed acceptable. She read a lot, from classic literature to fashion magazines she had to sneak from a 7-Eleven.

What a difference: She was raised in the Hasidic Jewish enclave of Monsey, New York, where she  was discouraged from dressing immodestly or stepping outside traditional gender roles

Unhappy: Julia was married at 19 to Yosef Hendler, a man she barely knew. They had four children but she grew increasingly depressed and suicidal, trying to starve herself to death

No fun: Because she was the oldest of her parents' eight kids, and female, she often cared for her younger siblings like a mother would, changing diapers and wiping their noses

'Our lives were governed by a web of modesty laws that required us to not only cover our bodies head-to-toe, but to behave comparatively, as well,' she said

At 16, she taught herself to sew, and would make her own modest versions of the clothes she saw in those magazines.

But she was busy in her traditional role, too. Because she was the oldest of her parents' eight kids, and female, she often cared for her younger siblings like a mother would, changing diapers and wiping their noses.

'By the time I was married, I already had seven children,' she said. 

To attract a husband, Julia changed her first tame to Talia — a more Hebrew-sounding name — when she was 18, and by 19 she was married off to Yosef Hendler, a man she barely knew.

A housewife, she had four children with Yosef: Batsheva, Miriam, Shlomo, and Aron, and they were raised with the same strict upbringing.

'Batsheva was brought up the most fundamentalist because she was my eldest,' she told Oprah Daily

'Once, one of her babysitters had put on a radio with the news. Not only did I fire the nanny, I cried for two days, because I was sure I had ruined my daughter's soul, 100 per cent convinced that God was going to punish me, and that me and my daughter were going to hell for eternity because there was a radio on in my house. That's how crazy I was.'

The ultra-Orthodox are encouraged to have lots of children, but Julia stopped at four, and secretly started taking birth control.

On the rise: After leaving in late 2013, she launched her own shoe line and eventually became creative director at La Perla, where she dressed stars like Kendall Jenner

Ooh-la-la! She dressed both Kendall and Mary J. Blige for the 2017 Met Gala

Star power: She launched her own line, e1972, in 2020 with Bebe Reha singing at her runway show

She did other things that would get her in trouble, too. She was told the colors she wore were too bright, that she shouldn't be reading the books that she did, and once, at a wedding, was scolded by a rabbi for dancing too provocatively — even as all the men were separated from the women at the reception. 

Julia was miserable, growing more and more depressed. She wrote in her diary about methods for killing herself.

'The day came when I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stay for one more second,' she told the Post. 'You’re trapped in a life that’s not yours. So it was stay and die, or walk out the door.'

She ultimately deciding that starving herself was the best way to go because people would assume it was unintentional, an eating disorder — so her children wouldn't carry the shame of their mother's suicide. At just over five feet tall, she got down to 73 lbs.

But seeing her daughter Miriam facing the same struggles to conform as she did made up her mind to leave instead.  

'All the things I’d been thinking in my head, she was saying them out loud, except I thought I was a bad person for thinking this way. But no one could convince me that a 5-year-old was evil,' she told the LA Times. 'Miriam gave me the permission to say, "Something’s not right."

Motivation: She ultimately found the strength to leave when she saw her youngest daughter facing the same struggles to conform as she did

Family affair: Her oldest daughter, Batsheva, is now 28. Like her mom, she was married at 19

Open-minded: Her daughter Miriam is now an app designer who discusses her bisexual orientation in the series, with her mom's full support

Both worlds: Youngest son Aaron, 14, still attends high school and wears a yarmulke while dividing time between his parents' homes

'They were doing to her what they had done to me — trying to push her down and mold her into that flat person that they could disappear. I couldn’t let that happen,' she told the New York Times

It took her years to actually get out on her own. She had to learn about the world outside of her community, and also worked secretly, selling insurance to save up enough money to break free.

In late 2012 she finally left, quickly reinventing herself as Julia Haart as she adjusted to her new life.

'I’d had no radio, no television, no newspapers, no magazines. I’d never been to a bar. I’d never been on a date. I’d never slept in a room on my own. I felt like I was a Martian stepping on earth,' she said.

But she enjoyed living her life more freely, and didn't waste time making up for all the lost years in the romance and sex department.

'The first orgasm I had was at age 35 — with a vibrator, after 16 years of marriage' she said. 'I never heard of an orgasm, let alone a vibrator.'

As as single woman, she pursued 'freedom in every direction. Sexual pleasure, that’s a big deal.' 

Boss lady: By 2013, she was already launching her own shoe line after finding investors 'in the craziest places,' including on a plane and in an eye doctor’s office 

'It genuinely didn't occur to me that I would fail, because I was so f***ing ignorant,' she said of her bold new career choice

Movin' on up: She didn't fail, though, and ultimately landed a collaboration with La Perla. By 2016, she was the brand's creative director

'Forty-three years of my life have been stolen from me. I don't have time,' she said (pictured with Anna Wintour)

'I’d never been kissed by someone I had chosen. When I left, I basically went crazy. I think the first guy I was with was a Cirque du Soleil guy,' she said.

Freedom also included wearing whatever she wanted and fully embracing her love of fashion. She says in the docu-series, 'I was covered up my entire life, so to me, every low-cut top, every miniskirt, is an emblem of freedom.'

By 2013, she was already launching her own shoe line after finding investors 'in the craziest places,' including on a plane and in an eye doctor’s office. 

'It genuinely didn't occur to me that I would fail, because I was so f***ing ignorant,' she said of her bold new career choice.

She didn't fail, though, and ultimately landed a collaboration with La Perla. By 2016, she was the brand's creative director. 

'Forty-three years of my life have been stolen from me. I don't have time,' she said.

In 2017, she designed Met Gala dresses for Kendall Jenner and Mary J. Blige, whom she accompanied to the A-list event. As creative director, her designs were also worn by stars like Naomi Campbell, Anna Kendrick, Lily Collins, Lea Michele, Laure Dern, Padma Lakshmi, and Kourtney Kardashian.

New hubby: La Perla not only offered her a stellar career, but another chance at marital bliss: It's where she met the company’s owner, Silvio Scaglia, whom she would marry in 2019

Livin' life! As as single woman, she pursued 'freedom in every direction. Sexual pleasure, that’s a big deal'

'I’d never been kissed by someone I had chosen. When I left, I basically went crazy. I think the first guy I was with was a Cirque du Soleil guy,' she said

Fun with fashion: She says in the docu-series, 'I was covered up my entire life, so to me, every low-cut top, every miniskirt, is an emblem of freedom'

La Perla not only offered her a stellar career, but another chance at marital bliss: It's where she met the company’s owner, Silvio Scaglia, whom she would go on to marry in 2019. 

'We are very independent, strong-willed people, and he loves my independence, so to me, before, marriage was a prison. So, now I realize that you can be married, you can love someone, and you can still have your own freedom and individuality, and I think that's beautiful. I love love,' she told Oprah Daily. 

That same year, she was named CEO of Elite World Group, which represents more than 4,000 models, actors, singers, and artists.

Her next project is the Netflix series, which she stars in alongside her husband and four kids — who are also adjusting to an unorthodox life.

Batsheva, like her mother, was married at 19 before Julia left the community. She still keeps Shabbat — which involves a set of strict rules for observing the sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night — but is also an FIT graduate and popular TikToker with 1.3 million followers.

Miriam is now an app designer who discusses her bisexual orientation in the series, with her mom's full support.

Stepping out: Her daughter Batsheva still keeps Shabbat — which involves a set of strict rules for observing the sabbath — but is also a popular TikToker with 1.3 million followers

In the show: Her son Shlomo seems to have had a bit more trouble adjusting to secular life

'The fact that my children are with me, and they're my best friends in the world — it's a f*** miracle,' Julia said (pictured with Miriam)

Religious shift: Julia stresses that though she has left fundamentalism behind, she is still spiritual and loves being Jewish (pictured with Aron)

She added: I have no anger towards the community. I think everyone there is a victim. People innately just want to be good.'

Meanwhile, her son Shlomo is a law school student with limited dating experience — in the show, he reveals that he finally had his first kiss — and youngest son Aaron, 14, still attends high school and wears a yarmulke while dividing time between his parents' homes.

Julia said she has a friendly relationship with her ex-husband, but is estranged from most of her siblings. She has a few friends who've supported her, but 'mostly everyone else dropped me like a hot potato.' 

But Julia stresses that though she has left fundamentalism behind, she is still spiritual and loves being Jewish. 

'We still do Passover, my style, because I'm in a bikini and they're eating kosher food. But it works,' she said. 'The fact that my children are with me, and they're my best friends in the world — it's a f*** miracle.'

She added: I have no anger towards the community. I think everyone there is a victim. People innately just want to be good.'

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

By posting your comment you agree to our house rules.

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.

Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?

Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual

We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.

You can choose on each post whether you would like it to be posted to Facebook. Your details from Facebook will be used to provide you with tailored content, marketing and ads in line with our Privacy Policy.

Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

Read full article at Daily Mail

Fashion CEO Julia Haart found sexual freedom after leaving Orthodox life

New York Post 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

By Doree Lewak

July 14, 2021 | 7:48am | Updated July 14, 2021 | 8:10am

Although she has created lingerie for the bodies of Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow, fashion mogul Julia Haart was a late bloomer.

“The first orgasm I had was at age 35 — with a vibrator, after 16 years of marriage,” the 50-year-old told The Post. “I never heard of an orgasm, let alone a vibrator.”

Haart’s cluelessness was no fault of her own. Born Talia Leibov, she was raised in a Haredi Jewish Orthodox community in Monsey, New York. She married at 19 and raised four children in the insular upstate enclave.

But eight years ago, she left the “fundamentalist” community, and since then has had a meteoric rise in the fashion industry, going from her own startup shoe line to running Elite World Group — and now she stars in her own Netflix reality series, “My Unorthodox Life,” debuting July 14.

The contrast between her former and current lives couldn’t be more stark. “Where I lived, women were to be rarely seen and never heard. Our lives were governed by a web of modesty laws that required us to not only cover our bodies head-to-toe, but to behave comparatively, as well,” she said. “You grow up thinking you don’t matter at all.”

After years of sneaking fashion magazines from the local 7-Eleven and watching “Sex and the City” on the sly, in 2013, Haart finally summoned the courage to walk away from her community and her husband of 23 years, whom she said she “barely knew” when marrying him.

She really did feel like death was the only way out. An old diary entry revealed “ways for me to commit suicide as politely as possible,” she recalled, either by hanging herself or getting her hands on pills or a gun.

“In the end, I decided the easiest way to kill myself would be to starve myself to death,” she said. “That way, people wouldn’t think I killed myself — they would just think I have an eating disorder, so my children would still be able to get shidduchim [matchmaking prospects for marriage].” She weighed 73 pounds the day she left.

Using a nest egg she had saved from selling insurance in her community, Haart moved to New York City, bringing her daughter Miriam, now 21, with her. (At the time, her youngest son Aron, now 15, remained in the community; her son Shlomo, 25, was studying in Israel; and her oldest daughter Batsheva, now 28, was newly married.)

Her initial feeling of intense liberation was weighed down by acute feelings of being an outsider. “It’s so jarring — you feel like you’re an alien, you don’t feel like you belong,” said Haart, who likened her transition to being a “time traveler” who entered a world 300 years into the future.

Growing up with a meager secular education, Haart soaked up as much literature as she could — Euripides, Spinoza, Voltaire — and leaned into a lifelong passion: fashion. “Within a week of leaving my old life behind, I started my own shoe brand. I had never studied fashion or designed a shoe; I didn’t know anyone in the industry. I did have one thing going for me, though: I didn’t realize how absurd and impossible the task I set out for myself was.”

Now, she’s CEO of Elite World Group, a talent media company comprised of 48 global agencies representing more than 5,400 celebrities and models, including Jenner and Irina Shayk.

It’s a dream the once-sheltered Haart never believed could happen. “I’ve been obsessed with fashion for as long as I can remember — which was very problematic in my world,” she said. “Clothing is meant to cover and hide — certainly not to evoke personality, uniqueness or to draw attention, or to show femininity or sexuality. It’s all about disappearing into the background.”

Opening up herself and her kids — all four of whom appear in the reality show — to the constant cameras wasn’t an easy decision for Haart, who lives in a palatial three-story, 10,000-square foot Tribeca apartment. “I said to myself, ‘You have a reason.’ Maybe I can help other women, inspire someone.”

While her children now have mixed levels of religious observance, Haart said she always let them choose their own path. Still, she offers them bedroom advice and has even bought them sex toys.

“The only thing I could do for my children is expose them to the world,” she said, adding that most of her own friends and family members cut her off once she left the Orthodox community. “I’m [considered] a dangerous person — someone you don’t want your children around . . . Of course it hurts.”

Still, she said, “I’m really proud to be a Jew. I have no anger towards the community. I think everyone there is a victim. People innately just want to be good.”

Stream It Or Skip It: 'My Unorthodox Life' On Netflix, A Reality Series Starring Julia Haart, Who Went From An Orthodox Jewish Family To Fashion CEO In Six Years

Decider 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

Woman Crush Wednesday: Ramona Young is Always a Delight in 'Never Have I Ever'

'Cobra Kai' Costume Designer Frank Helmer Explains How He Balances The Show's Retro Overtones With Modern Sensibilities

Where to Watch 'The French Dispatch'

Emmy Nominations 2021: See the Full List of Nominees for the 73rd Emmy Awards

Two New Ted Bundy Films Spark Backlash on Twitter: "Manipulative and Gross"

'Basic Instinct' Director Says Sharon Stone "Knew Exactly What We Were Doing" In Film's Infamous Nude Scene

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Human Capital' on HBO Max, a Drama About Some People Who Live and Struggle in America in Medium-Interesting Ways

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Air Jaws: Going For Gold' on Discovery+, Where Great Whites Leap From Sea To Sky

How To Watch 'Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain'

'Police Academy' Legend Michael Winslow Auditions for 'America's Got Talent': "I Still Have Some Sounds to Make"

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Song of the Shark' on Discovery+, Where No V.O. Lets These Iconic Fish Speak For Themselves

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Gunpowder Milkshake' on Netflix, an Overstylized Action-Comedy That Wields Irony Like a Cudgel

Will There Be a ‘Gunpowder Milkshake 2’? What We Know About A Sequel to Karen Gillan’s Netflix Thriller

'Loki' Season Finale Explained: Episode 6, "For All Time. Always."

Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Hunt' on HBO Max, a Violent Mess of a Free-For-All Political Satire

Why Is 'In the Heights' Not On HBO Max?

Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour Prom' Finds Pop’s New It Girl Performing Her Hits And Having Fun

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Summer of Soul' on Hulu, A Musical And Cultural Doc About A Pivotal 1969 Concert Series

'Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You' Mixes Pop Perfection, Horny Dance Moves, And The Singer's Girl Next Door Appeal

Stream It Or Skip It: 'A Classic Horror Story' on Netflix, a Self-Aware Horror Flick Aiming to Skewer Cult Movies About Cults

Stream It Or Skip It: 'A Quiet Place 2' on Paramount+, the Predictably Suspenseful Sequel to the Be-Silent-Or-Die Freakout Monster Movie

'A Quiet Place Part II' Is Now Streaming on Paramount+

Where to Watch 'The Sleepless Unrest: The Real Conjuring Home'

'Monsters at Work' Continues Pixar’s Trend of Insightful Workplace Examinations

Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Boss Baby: Family Business' on Peacock, a Hyper-Overplotted Sequel Balancing Capitalist Critique With Diaper Jokes

Where to Watch 'The Boss Baby: The Family Business'

Celebrate 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' with the New Bloomingdale’s Pop-Up Shop

When Will 'Rick and Morty' Season 5 Be on HBO Max and Hulu?

Even 'Rick and Morty's Writer Called Episode 4 "Disgusting and Tasteless"

'Rick and Morty': Who Voices Kathy Ireland?

'Rick and Morty': 5 Things You Missed in Season 5, Episode 4

Here's How 'Loki' Sets Up the Next Disney+ Marvel Show

When Is 'Loki' Season 2 Coming Out?

'Loki' Season Finale Explained: Episode 6, "For All Time. Always."

'Loki' Easter Eggs: 7 Things You May Have Missed in Episode 6

'Below Deck Med': David Pascoe Talks Malia, Maureen The Magical Unicorn, and That Major Fart

'Below Deck Med' Recap: Did Chef Tom Cheat on Malia?

'Below Deck Med': Courtney Veale Talks Twerking, Tequila, and That Lazy Susan

'Below Deck Med': Watch Chef Mathew Completely Lose His Cool With Lexi

'Evil' Paramount Plus Episode 4 Recap: "E Is For Elevator"

'Evil' Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: "F Is For Fire"

New On Paramount+ July 2021

'Evil' Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: "A Is For Angel"

Best TV Shows Of June 2021

Best TV Shows of 2021... So Far

'Mythic Quest's Megan Ganz and Danny Pudi Break Down That Shocking Season 2 Finale

'Mythic Quest' Delivered One of The Funniest TV Moments of 2021

'Fear the Walking Dead' Bosses Break Down the Explosive Season 6 Finale

'Fear the Walking Dead': Lennie James Teases Morgan's Season Finale Fate

The 10 Best TV Shows of May 2021

'Fear the Walking Dead': Alycia Debnam-Carey Teases The "Epic" Conclusion of Season 6

Opening Shot: A shot of lower Manhattan, then the inside of the “Haart Family Penthouse” in Tribeca.

The Gist: Like most women in her ultra-orthodox community, Julia married her first husband, whom she barely knew, when she was 19 and was expected to be a homemaker and a baby maker. Women in most ultra-orthodox sects are supposed to exist to serve their husbands, and dress very modestly to not “tempt” adult men who somehow can’t control themselves. Julia couldn’t abide by that, so she secretly sold insurance to save up some money, and finally left her husband in 2013.

Three of her kids left the community with her: Batsheva, who was 19 and newly married to her husband Ben; Miriam, who was happy to leave because she wasn’t religious and wanted to explore her sexuality; and Shlomo, who has yet to kiss someone at 25 because back in Monsey, dating was for marriage (her now-teenage son Aron lives with is father). Julia is now married to Silvio Scaglia Haart (he took the last name she gave herself after they got married); together they bought Elite in 2019.

In the first episode, Julia is putting together her first show for Elite’s first fashion label, with the help of COO Robert Brotherton, and her key model has to bail due to illness. Meanwhile, Bat has a continual argument with Ben about wearing pants (a no-no in ultra-orthodox communities), and Miriam tells her if Ben can’t follow her exploration of the non-orthodox world at her pace, then he’s not good for her. Miriam goes on a blind date with a woman who also led a restrictive life, and Shlomo talks to Julia about his first kiss with a woman.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? My Unorthodox Life has the feel of reality shows that center around families from cultures that Americans don’t often understand well, like Family Karma or House of Ho. But in there are wedged in some fights that don’t quite feel authentic, like on Bling Empire.

Our Take: As someone who is Jewish but not religious, stories of people who came out of ultra-orthodox sects in places like Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Monsey, NY fascinate me. I know a lot about the “rules” that those sects have and how women are ground down under the heel of tradition in those communities, but some things still surprise me. What surprised me is that some of the reasons given for the repression Julia talks about in the first episode is batshit crazy. But what also surprised me is that her meteoric rise to the top of the fashion heap isn’t explained very well.

Yes, Haart had a wild, sudden success with her shoe line, where she designed high heels that were comfortable, going with the theme that women shouldn’t sacrifice for fashion. Scaglia was the CEO of La Perla, the company that bought her shoe line in 2016. When they fell in love, that charged her rocket to the top even more, because the holding company they created bought Elite 2 years ago.

You have to realize how sheltered things are in the communities like the one Haart left. So the fact that she left the community in 2013 and became the CEO of Elite by 2019 is remarkable. I would have wanted to hear more of that story, but it feels like the producers left some details out, leaving viewers to wonder how she got to the top so fast. Even someone with the creativity, design skills, and determination of Haart wouldn’t go from nowhere to CEO in six years without meeting the right person at the right time, so a little more of that would have helped our confusion.

All that being said, Julia is charming as hell, and full of piss and vinegar, a good trait for a reality show star. Her family’s various struggles with “coming out” into general society are interesting to watch, especially Batsheva, who clings to some old-fashioned beliefs — she thinks Miriam’s bisexuality is just a phase — while expressing her new self in other ways.

Some of that, though, feels more “reality-real” than “real-real.” Bat’s fight with Ben about wearing jeans seems to be ginned up for the cameras, for a couple of reasons: 1) Bat’s wardrobe, even in the scene where she’s wearing jeans, wouldn’t have passed the modesty test in her old community, and b) In the scene at the fashion show where she’s trying to get everyone to stop chiming in on the fight, she’s wearing pants. The show’s producers need to tighten that up in future episodes to pass the sniff test from savvy reality audiences.

Sex and Skin: Julia talks openly about sex with her kids which, well, good for her, but, ewwww. Also, after a romantic dinner conversation between Julia and Silvio at a restaurant, the two of them make out like their plane is going down.

Parting Shot: Right before the fashion show starts, Julia learns that one of her models is sitting in a holding cell at a New York police precinct. Eeek!

Sleeper Star: We’ll make this a tie, between the shy and awkward Shlomo, who we identified with the most, and the boisterous and romantic Silvio.

Most Pilot-y Line: Again, reality audiences know when something is real or is staged for the cameras, and the whole jeans episode feels staged.

Our Call: STREAM IT. My Unorthodox Life is going to ride on Julia Haart’s personality, and this force of nature has personality to spare. Let’s hope further episodes — like when Aron stays with her — go over the culture shock she still faces so soon after leaving the life she always knew.

My Unorthodox Life Is More Bravo Docusoap Than Unorthodox

TIME 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

These are, for the most part, tales of trauma, abuse and repression, culminating in hard-won liberation. Their tone tends to be somber, then triumphant. But no mass-media trend stays earnest forever. Now Netflix, like Eve in the Garden of Eden, has finally seized the low-hanging fruit—and it’s a juicy one. My Unorthodox Life, whose nine-episode first season just arrived on the service, is yet another story of an irrepressible woman escaping her ultra-Orthodox prison. Instead of an eye-opening docuseries or a tear-jerking drama, it’s a reality show in the glossy, soapy Bravo mold. While I’m sure it makes perfect sense to the algorithm, the result is an exceedingly strange, questionably authentic mix of moods, genre conventions and contrivances.

The eponymous unorthodox life belongs to Julia Haart, who has, since 2019, been the chief executive of modeling mega-brand Elite World Group. Just six years earlier, Julia was living a fully frum life in the Orthodox enclave of Monsey, in New York’s Rockland County—keeping house, tending to her four children, wearing wigs, submitting to her husband, strictly observing the Jewish sabbath, the whole deal. But secretly, that circumscribed lifestyle was killing her. She’s since gotten divorced and remarried, to super-rich Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia Haart (who took the last name she gave herself upon leaving the Monsey fold), moved into a vast Tribeca penthouse and propelled herself rapidly upward in the fashion world. Now a remarkably young 50, Julia is doing everything she didn’t get to do in her 20s: wearing leather catsuits, talking constantly and graphically about sex, radiating big girlboss energy.

And she’s taking her children along for the thrill ride. The eldest, 27-year-old Batsheva, grew up entirely in Monsey, and married a boy from the community, Ben. Julia’s departure soon after the couple’s wedding created a rift between mother and daughter, the reparation of which is among the show’s running story lines. Meanwhile, Bat has healed enough to become a TikTok fashion influencer. Her brother Shlomo, 24, is preparing for law school, dipping a toe into dating and struggling over how observant he ultimately wants to be. Ambitious, feminist-minded tech wunderkind Miriam is, at 20, a mini Julia. She’s also enthusiastically bisexual, collecting love interests faster than her mom collects designer outfits. The youngest of the kids, 14-year-old Aron, lives with his dad, Yosef, in Monsey. When his mom comes to visit, he’s just returned from an ultra-Orthodox summer camp that inspired him to stop watching TV and talking to girls.

The show highlights some fascinating tensions that arise within an apparently loving family in which no one occupies precisely the same point on the spectrum between Orthodox and secular life. Although she often claims that it’s fundamentalism she loathes, not religion per se, Julia would clearly like to see her kids reject Judaism as fully as she has. Only Miriam has gotten all the way there. Bat and Ben, who married at 19 and would more than likely have a family of their own by now if they’d stayed in Monsey, struggle over when to start having kids. Ben has a hard time getting used to the idea of Bat wearing pants. Aron considers himself a pious “black-hatter”—a persona that, for him, seems to satisfy an adolescent urge to rebel against his parents. If he and, to a lesser extent, Shlomo are less sanguine about the Haarts’ exodus than their sisters, the implication is that it’s because the frum lifestyle is so much harder on women.

What’s unfortunate is that this novel stuff comes wrapped in the shiny, same-y packaging of a standard docusoap. There’s the endless parade of expensive locations: the Hamptons house, the Paris Fashion Week vacation rental that is an actual castle, Julia’s cavernous walk-in closet, which must house approximately $10,000 worth of designer clothing per square foot. Many conversations feel rehearsed, and many gatherings appear contrived to bring characters into conflict. A story line that emerges mid-season to stoke sibling rivalry comes off as fully manufactured. At least the show manages to give some depth to its final cast member, Julia’s COO and best friend Robert Brotherton. A witty, loyal guy who wrestles with dating, body image and whether to disappoint his adoptive family by meeting the woman he calls his “birth person,” he’d probably be relegated to a tropey gay-sidekick role in a typical Real Housewives cast.

It doesn’t really bother me that My Unorthodox Life isn’t as serious or highbrow as many of its predecessors in ultra-Orthodox entertainment. More frustrating is the way its stage-managed surface detracts from everything that’s more distinctive and spontaneous about the Haarts’ story. Julia’s executive producer credit raises further questions about how much of the picture we’re seeing. Her high-glam, girl-power take on feminism is never challenged. Her ex Yosef appears frequently on the show as an unexpectedly warm, open-minded co-parent. Yet we never get a sense of how he came to not only tolerate, but support a woman who literally ran away from him. And although it’s public knowledge that Silvio is the chairman of Elite (and owned the company she previously headed, La Perla, after founding her own shoe brand), the role he has played in her career remains muddy on the show. He’s presented as a besotted husband, always frustrated that Julia’s busy schedule doesn’t allow them enough alone time.

This may be authentic, but it’s hard to tell which parts of the show have been massaged into ads for Elite, Batsheva’s career as an influencer or Julia’s forthcoming memoir (which gets quite a bit of screen time). From a commercial perspective, I get why the Haarts’ saga is being framed as a low-stakes, rich-people soap. Julia certainly has the charisma to become the next Bethenny Frankel or Lisa Vanderpump. And I did find My Unorthodox Life more engaging than most of its Bravo counterparts, because the Haarts have a genuinely unique story, not to mention better personalities than most of the characters on those series.

It just offers relatively little of what I appreciate most in escape-from-ultra-Orthodoxy narratives: confirmation that within closed social systems are people very much like the rest of us, as well as the opportunity to see a mainstream world that’s so familiar to me through the eyes of adults encountering it for the first time. The journey from fundamentalist to regular person, it turns out, makes for a more compelling story than the journey from fundamentalist to personal brand.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Media Continues to Go After Orthodox Jews With New Netflix Show “My Unorthodox Life”

Jewish Journal 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

If there is one thing I want readers to take away from this article, it’s this: Stop using the word “unorthodox” when you go off the derech. Pick a new word. We get it!

Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Aish, and Chabad.org and the author of the first children’s book for the children of Jewish converts, “Jewish Just Like You.”

As an Orthodox Jew, I’m always learning something new about myself thanks to the media. I’m a fundamentalist who is insular, backwards, stuck in the past and, of course, because I am a woman, I am oppressed. I am so oppressed I don’t even know I’m being oppressed. I can’t hear all the horrible things these terrible male Orthodox rabbis are saying to me beneath my head covering.

I’ll have another opportunity to educate myself when “My Unorthodox Life” premieres on Netflix this month. This show is about a 40-something woman, Julia Haart, who lived in an Orthodox community and decided to stop being religious. As we say in our community, she “went off the derech,” or “went off the path.” Now, she is a successful CEO who is the star of a new Kardashian-esque reality show. In the trailer, she says, “It takes time to deprogram yourself.”

Media outlets are reporting that the show “takes a strong stance against fundamentalism” and they’re praising her for “escaping” the grasp of her ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, New York.

This is a story we’ve heard over and over again. A person grows up in an Orthodox community, they claim the community treats them so badly that they have to leave, and then they write a tell-all memoir that bashes everyone they used to know. If they’re lucky, they’ll get to appear in a documentary or get a show on Netflix. Usually, the word “unorthodox” is involved.

If there is one thing I want readers to take away from this article, it’s this: Stop using the word “unorthodox” when you go off the derech. Pick a new word. We get it!

In all seriousness, most of these stories involve individuals that either have some type of mental illness, were abused by their families, had spouses who didn’t understand them, etc. Somehow, though, the Orthodox lifestyle and/or community are to blame for all their troubles. And when they bring up shocking stories about their communities, nobody bothers to look into them to see if they are true. Everything is taken as truth, when much of it has actually been debunked. The Orthodox perspective is almost never taken into account.

These salacious stories are actively making people hate Jews. And Orthodox Jews usually don’t speak up because they are too busy living their lives and not paying attention to what the media has to say. If they do take a stance, mainstream publications typically won’t publish their responses. The media doesn’t want to hear it. And so we just get pummeled over and over again.

These salacious stories are actively making people hate Jews. And Orthodox Jews usually don’t speak up because they are too busy living their lives and not paying attention to what the media has to say.

Of course, there are people who have legitimate grievances with their Orthodox community and they feel the need to be true to themselves and leave. I am not talking about those people. As a community we are, like every other community, far from perfect; we are comprised of flawed human beings. Still, I can’t help but notice what seems to be a distressing media obsession with us.

So who am I to say all this? Well, I had the typical secular American life growing up. I wasn’t born a Jew; my background is English, Irish, Scottish and German. After meeting my Jewish husband, I learned about Judaism, and specifically Orthodox Judaism. We went to beautiful Friday night dinners at our local Chabad House, which is run by Lubavitch Jews, a sect of Hasidim that mostly live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I thought the long-bearded rabbi in a black hat was going to dislike me because I have blonde hair and blue eyes and I was clearly not born Jewish. I was wrong. He and his family welcomed me in and made me feel like a part of the community right away.

I had never experienced such warmth. Once I began studying the Torah and going to an Orthodox synagogue, I began a five-year conversion journey. At the end of it, I converted through an Orthodox beit din (a Jewish court of law consisting of three rabbis) and today, I observe Shabbat, keep kosher, pray every day, cover my hair, and send my child to an Orthodox school.

What astounds me is the difference between what the media reports and what I’ve experienced in my life. Orthodox Jews are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. And, yes, even the “ultra-Orthodox” ones are nice. My husband and I used to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and buy our food at the Satmar Hasidic grocery stores, and they were lovely, too. One time we were in a rush to shop for food before Shabbat and a Hasidic man offered us a ride to the store. Because of him, we made it there in time. I couldn’t believe he would let random strangers into his car, especially when we weren’t Hasidic. But he did.

When I gave birth to our daughter, our Orthodox community here in Los Angeles organized a meal train for us. We ate a homemade dinner every night for a month. Sometimes, we got food from people who didn’t even know us. They simply heard that someone had a baby and they wanted to help out.

I could provide countless examples of how wonderful Orthodox Jews are, but when it comes to Netflix, the media and the publishing houses, that’s not what sells.

When “My Unorthodox Life” comes out, I anticipate it’ll get a lot of praise. Reviewers will say the star of it is bold and brave, and they will continue to bash Orthodox Jews.

While it may be easier to sit back and angrily read these headlines or try to ignore them, I encourage my fellow Orthodox Jews to push back against these harmful, degrading stereotypes. They are hurting us more than we think. Yes, ultimately, God is there for us, and he will protect us and sort everything out in the end. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t let our voices be heard.

It’s time to stop hiding and to show the world who we really are. No one else is going to; that’s for sure.

Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Aish, and Chabad.org and the author of the first children’s book for the children of Jewish converts, “Jewish Just Like You.”

© Copyright 2021 Tribe Media Corp • Powered by Lightdrop

'My Unorthodox Life'

Decider 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

Woman Crush Wednesday: Ramona Young is Always a Delight in 'Never Have I Ever'

'Cobra Kai' Costume Designer Frank Helmer Explains How He Balances The Show's Retro Overtones With Modern Sensibilities

Where to Watch 'The French Dispatch'

Emmy Nominations 2021: See the Full List of Nominees for the 73rd Emmy Awards

Two New Ted Bundy Films Spark Backlash on Twitter: "Manipulative and Gross"

'Basic Instinct' Director Says Sharon Stone "Knew Exactly What We Were Doing" In Film's Infamous Nude Scene

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Human Capital' on HBO Max, a Drama About Some People Who Live and Struggle in America in Medium-Interesting Ways

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Air Jaws: Going For Gold' on Discovery+, Where Great Whites Leap From Sea To Sky

How To Watch 'Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain'

'Police Academy' Legend Michael Winslow Auditions for 'America's Got Talent': "I Still Have Some Sounds to Make"

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Song of the Shark' on Discovery+, Where No V.O. Lets These Iconic Fish Speak For Themselves

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Gunpowder Milkshake' on Netflix, an Overstylized Action-Comedy That Wields Irony Like a Cudgel

Will There Be a ‘Gunpowder Milkshake 2’? What We Know About A Sequel to Karen Gillan’s Netflix Thriller

'Loki' Season Finale Explained: Episode 6, "For All Time. Always."

Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Hunt' on HBO Max, a Violent Mess of a Free-For-All Political Satire

Why Is 'In the Heights' Not On HBO Max?

Olivia Rodrigo's 'Sour Prom' Finds Pop’s New It Girl Performing Her Hits And Having Fun

Stream It Or Skip It: 'Summer of Soul' on Hulu, A Musical And Cultural Doc About A Pivotal 1969 Concert Series

'Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You' Mixes Pop Perfection, Horny Dance Moves, And The Singer's Girl Next Door Appeal

Stream It Or Skip It: 'A Classic Horror Story' on Netflix, a Self-Aware Horror Flick Aiming to Skewer Cult Movies About Cults

Stream It Or Skip It: 'A Quiet Place 2' on Paramount+, the Predictably Suspenseful Sequel to the Be-Silent-Or-Die Freakout Monster Movie

'A Quiet Place Part II' Is Now Streaming on Paramount+

Where to Watch 'The Sleepless Unrest: The Real Conjuring Home'

'Monsters at Work' Continues Pixar’s Trend of Insightful Workplace Examinations

Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Boss Baby: Family Business' on Peacock, a Hyper-Overplotted Sequel Balancing Capitalist Critique With Diaper Jokes

Where to Watch 'The Boss Baby: The Family Business'

Celebrate 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' with the New Bloomingdale’s Pop-Up Shop

When Will 'Rick and Morty' Season 5 Be on HBO Max and Hulu?

Even 'Rick and Morty's Writer Called Episode 4 "Disgusting and Tasteless"

'Rick and Morty': Who Voices Kathy Ireland?

'Rick and Morty': 5 Things You Missed in Season 5, Episode 4

Here's How 'Loki' Sets Up the Next Disney+ Marvel Show

When Is 'Loki' Season 2 Coming Out?

'Loki' Season Finale Explained: Episode 6, "For All Time. Always."

'Loki' Easter Eggs: 7 Things You May Have Missed in Episode 6

'Below Deck Med': David Pascoe Talks Malia, Maureen The Magical Unicorn, and That Major Fart

'Below Deck Med' Recap: Did Chef Tom Cheat on Malia?

'Below Deck Med': Courtney Veale Talks Twerking, Tequila, and That Lazy Susan

'Below Deck Med': Watch Chef Mathew Completely Lose His Cool With Lexi

'Evil' Paramount Plus Episode 4 Recap: "E Is For Elevator"

'Evil' Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: "F Is For Fire"

New On Paramount+ July 2021

'Evil' Season 2 Episode 2 Recap: "A Is For Angel"

Best TV Shows Of June 2021

Best TV Shows of 2021... So Far

'Mythic Quest's Megan Ganz and Danny Pudi Break Down That Shocking Season 2 Finale

'Mythic Quest' Delivered One of The Funniest TV Moments of 2021

'Fear the Walking Dead' Bosses Break Down the Explosive Season 6 Finale

'Fear the Walking Dead': Lennie James Teases Morgan's Season Finale Fate

The 10 Best TV Shows of May 2021

'Fear the Walking Dead': Alycia Debnam-Carey Teases The "Epic" Conclusion of Season 6

Julia Haart has a message for 'My Unorthodox Life' critics: Watch before you judge me

JTA News - Jewish Telegraphic Agency 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

By submitting the above I agree to the privacy policy and terms of use of JTA.org

(JTA) — The day “My Unorthodox Life” premiered on Netflix, its subject Julia Haart was frustrated by the negative reviews — especially those from Jews who live the way she once did.

“Before you judge the show, maybe you might want to watch the show?” Haart told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday, responding to those who say the reality TV series is only the latest in a series of pop culture cheap shots against Orthodoxy.

“Because they had the word ‘unorthodox’ in it, people have made a thousand assumptions without actually taking the time to listen to what I actually have to say,” said Haart, the CEO of the global modeling agency Elite World Group. “If someone watches the show … it’s going to be really hard for someone to say I don’t mention anything positive.”

What Haart has to say, though, might be hard to hear for those who defended Orthodoxy against Netflix’s previous forays into stories about people who have left Orthodox communities.

The title “My Unorthodox Life” pays homage to the company’s 2020 Emmy-winning hit “Unorthodox,” a series loosely based on the 2012 bestselling memoir by Deborah Feldman, who left the Hasidic community after marrying at 17 and having a son. That show was preceded by “One of Us,” a 2017 documentary following the lives of three formerly Hasidic Jews, one of whom grapples with the aftermath of sexual abuse, as they struggle to acclimate to the challenges of their new lives.

But while critics of those shows could make the case — and sometimes did — that the abuse and trauma prompting the subjects to leave stemmed from simply a few bad Orthodox apples, Haart says the problem is endemic to the haredi Orthodox world, where women typically marry young, have many children and rarely pursue higher education or high-power careers.

“What I would love to see is that women have an opportunity to have a real education, can go to college, do not get married off at 19 on a shidduch,” or arranged match, Haart told JTA. “I want women to be able to sing in public if they want or dance in public if they want. I want them to create. I want them to be doctors or lawyers or whatever they want to be. I want them to know that they matter, in and of themselves, not just as wives and mothers.”

A flurry of press surrounding the show’s premiere has already made the contours of Haart’s life familiar to many. She was born Julia Leibov in what was then the Soviet Union. (She later went by Talia beginning around the time she began dating for marriage.) Her parents were observant Jews, though that was difficult at the time — despite there being no mikvahs, or Jewish ritual baths, in the country at that time, Haart’s mother would still immerse in the Black Sea, even in the dead of winter.

Haart and her 11-year-old son, Aron, who is still religious. (Courtesy of Netflix)

The family came to the United States in the 1970s and moved to Austin, Texas, where Haart was the only Jew enrolled at her private school. When she was in the fourth grade, the family, having grown more religious, moved to Monsey, a town outside of New York City that is home to a large population of Orthodox Jews. Haart was enrolled in a religious girls’ school there and, for the first time, did not regularly encounter anyone in her daily life who was not an observant Jew.

She said the change induced a deep culture shock.

“I’d always been very proud of being Jewish, I loved my Jewish identity,” Haart said. “I just didn’t know that that meant I had to cut myself off from the rest of the world.”

Haart graduated from high school in Monsey and went on to attend a religious girls’ seminary in Israel for a year before returning to begin “shidduchim,” or matchmaker-arranged dating. At 19, she married Yosef Hendler and they moved to Flatbush, Brooklyn, where Hendler studied at a local yeshiva.

The couple later returned to Monsey and were part of an Orthodox community called “yeshivish” because of the centrality of yeshivas where men study Torah, sometimes full-time. In some ways the yeshivish community is less insular than the Hasidic communities that Feldman and the “One of Us” subjects left, with most people speaking English as a first language and some attending college and graduate school.

Haart’s husband was among them, graduating from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming more observant and settling into a career in energy. When he was offered a job in Atlanta in the 1990s, Haart jumped at the opportunity to move. “Out-of-town” communities, or Orthodox communities outside the metropolitan New York area, are considered more open-minded and often allow for a greater variety of religious practice than communities in New York and New Jersey.

“I was so ecstatic honestly, it didn’t occur to me to leave the world. But at least I thought, you know, out of town is a little more relaxed,” Haart said. “Atlanta was the beginning of everything.”

Haart became a leader in the local Orthodox community there, delivering widely attended lectures on Jewish topics and gaining a reputation as an engaging teacher. She often hosted large Shabbat meals, feeding on average 40 people a week. Among them were local college students and others in need of a Shabbat meal or wanting to learn more about Shabbat.

Those encounters introduced her to secular Jews and exposed her to their ways of life. She started visiting the local Barnes and Noble and picking up secular literature, then bought a television and started going to drive-in movies with her husband. (She said they preferred drive-ins because there they weren’t “mixing with non-Jews.”)

But when Haart tried to import some of what she was learning about the secular world into her own life, she said she ran into brick walls.

“I just was tired of being told … Julia, you’re too noticeable, Julia, your clothes are too tight, Julia, your clothes are too colorful, Julia, stop attracting attention,” she recalled. “I was so tired of being told to make myself invisible.”

She tried speaking with teachers and rabbis about her struggles in her religious community. Rabbis told her to recite Psalms.

“My favorite one was someone who told me, Julia, where does it say you need to be happy? There’s nowhere in the Torah that it says that,” Haart said.

By the time her oldest daughter, Batsheva, was married at 19 in 2012, Haart had learned enough about the “outside world” to want to jump in. The week after the wedding, Haart left behind the Orthodox community, taking her younger daughter, Miriam. (An older son, Shlomo, later moved to New York City and continued to observe Shabbat, though he said he recently stopped wearing a kippah. Haart and her ex-husband share custody of their youngest son, Aron, who is 14 and attends an Orthodox school. All of the children appear on the show.)

Within a year of leaving, Haart launched an eponymous shoe company. Within a short time she had been tapped to become the creative director at the luxury lingerie brand La Perla, where she was influential in getting Kim Kardashian, whose family’s reality show paved the way for “My Unorthodox Life,” to don a bra as outerwear. In 2019, Haart assumed the top role at the talent management company Elite World Group, whose chairman is her Italian husband.

The show is thin on details about Haart’s meteoric rise from ex-Orthodox mother to globetrotting fashion CEO. For that, Haart said, you’ll have to wait for her memoir, which is scheduled for release next spring. (The book figures heavily into the show’s first episodes, as Haart disagrees with some of her children about whether she should be able to disclose personal details about them.)

But Haart said her religious journey was more gradual. She said she learned about the world beyond her Orthodox community for eight years before she left, slowly experimenting with some of the more stringent parts of her religious life along the way.

“People just assume that I walked out one day. That’s not what happened,” she said. “It took over eight years for me to leave, and in those eight years I became less and less fundamentalist. So people who know me from the last few years before I left know a very different woman than the woman [I was] until 35.”

That doesn’t mean she embraced the outside world in the way she is seen doing on the show, where she wears revealing clothing, freely dispensing advice about vibrators and eating nonkosher food. During her years in Atlanta before she left, Haart taught in a religious school and gave classes to women in her community. Recordings of some of her religious lectures can still be found online.

“When I say that we became more and more secular, it’s still your nose pressed against the glass at the bakery door, but we’re not going into the bakery, and we’re certainly not buying the croissant,” Haart said. “For those eight years I was looking.”

Yael Reisman, director of field and movement building at Footsteps, an organization that helps those who wish to leave Orthodox communities to adjust to life in the secular world, said the story of Haart’s journey could be inspiring. But she said it could also be dangerously misleading.

“Our members really struggle,” Reisman said. “Leaving comes at such a tremendous cost, there’s so much on the line. I worry that the show doesn’t deal with the complexities of leaving everything you know behind.”

Haart and her family members do allude to the challenges of leaving Orthodox communities. Her son-in-law Binyamin Weinstein said he entered real estate because only a high school diploma is required, and Haart frequently bemoans the poor education she and her children received in Monsey. Elsewhere, Shlomo has discussed having to make up lost ground at a local community college before being able to transfer to Columbia University.

But Haart and her children disagree about how to assist someone who might want to leave the Orthodox community. In one episode of the show, Haart invites a woman who wishes to leave her community to discuss the process of starting a new life. Instead of offering her career advice, as Batsheva and Ben think she should, Haart gives the woman a makeover complete with a new haircut, makeup and jeans. To her children’s chagrin, she gives the woman a vibrator.

“If you were coming from Monsey and you had never been in a big beautiful office and met a CEO, what would your next step be the next day?” Batsheva asks. “Mine would be, wow, that’s really amazing, I want to be out in the workforce and the world. But I would still feel lost as to how can I get there.”

Ben, speaking to Miriam, adds: “I think what Batsheva is saying is it would have been more practical if your mother sat down with her and looked for jobs and showed her a game plan as opposed to the hair and makeup and vibrator.”

Batsheva confronts her mother, who defends her approach.

“I’m trying to promote self-knowledge, and knowing how to pleasure yourself as a woman is part of self-knowledge,” Haart said.

It’s clear that Haart would prefer her children to be in her world than in the Orthodox community and that she is uncomfortable with them embracing aspects of the life she left behind. The series shows Haart sometimes pushing her children to be less religiously observant, for example urging her youngest son to reconsider his decision not to talk to girls and chastising her son-in-law for his discomfort when Batsheva wears pants. But there are also scenes where she notes the presence of kosher food and celebrates the holiday of Sukkot with her children and one of her sisters who is still observant.

“If you watch it, you see that we all love each other and even though my mom isn’t religious … she’s extremely respectful, you know, does all the holidays with us, makes sure that there’s kosher food options, respects our travel restrictions on Shabbat,” Batsheva Weinstein, who now identifies as Modern Orthodox, told JTA.

Some Orthodox critics see the show as a malicious smear on the entire Orthodox community, and Haart’s support for those seeking to leave as proof that she has an agenda beyond telling her own story. The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Committee has been critiquing the show on Twitter, and Orthodox women have even taken to social media to counter the portrayal of Orthodoxy offered by the show, sharing stories of finding fulfillment in their own lives as Orthodox women alongside smiling photos of themselves with their hair covered and wearing modest dress with the hashtag #MyOrthodoxLife.

“These salacious stories are actively making people hate Jews,” Kylie Ora Lobell writes in the Jewish Journal. “And Orthodox Jews usually don’t speak up because they are too busy living their lives and not paying attention to what the media has to say. If they do take a stance, mainstream publications typically won’t publish their responses. The media doesn’t want to hear it. And so we just get pummeled over and over again.”

Writing in Glamour, Jenny Singer took issue with the idea that watching “My Unorthodox Life” would constitute a form of feminist activism. Instead, she said, the show could make Orthodox Jews even more vulnerable to antisemitism.

“It’s not acceptable to castigate an entire minority group, no matter how much you disagree with them or how harmful some of their practices are. It doesn’t help Orthodox women; it just puts all Orthodox people in danger,” Singer wrote.

Reisman said the idea that stories like Haart’s cause antisemitism are baseless.

“I can’t say how problematic that is. These stories don’t cause antisemitism, it’s just another tactic to get people to be quiet,” she said. “I think what needs to be addressed is these behaviors that make people leave.”

Haart, too, rejects the criticism that the show is antisemitic or anti-Orthodox. She still believes in God, she said, and she cherishes the values of kindness and charity she said she takes from Judaism.

She just doesn’t want any other women to feel the despair she experienced as a young bride and mother whose role in her community felt sharply circumscribed.

“Shabbos is beautiful. You think I want people to stop keeping Shabbos? Of course not,” Haart said. “I do want them to stop telling women what to do.”

I accept the JTA Privacy Policy.

By submitting the above I agree to the privacy policy and terms of use of JTA.org

'My Unorthodox Life' Star Batsheva Haart: Instagram, TikTok, Husband & What To Know

Bustle 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

The influencer runs a blog and has a large audience on Instagram and TikTok.

Get to know more about Batsheva below.

When not helping out at her mom’s modeling agency Elite World Group, Batsheva works as a blogger and studies marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. According to her LinkedIn page, Batsheva also does freelance social media work for the luxury lingerie brand La Perla, where her mother served as creative director from 2016 to 2019.

In her spare time, Batsheva runs Sunnies and Sangria, a lifestyle blog filled with gift guides, travel tips, and all things fashion. She’s taken her style and social media expertise and combined them into a pretty successful social media presence, with millions of followers on her TikTok and Instagram accounts.

The content creator entertains her 1.3 million TikTok fans with a variety of videos. Many are about beauty and travel hacks, and she also loves sharing her passion for clothes with get-dressed-with-me videos.

Fashion is one of the biggest ways Batsheva challenges her Orthodox Jewish upbringing. While living in the community, she was expected not to wear pants or any revealing clothing and to cover her hair with a wig. Since leaving, she’s been eager to experiment with her style.

On Instagram, you can see how much Batsheva’s style has evolved: she now wears pants, leggings, crop tops, shorts, bikinis, and more. Her feed includes reposts of her TikToks, selfies, and plenty of photos of her with her husband Ben.

Ben works in real estate, though he discussed switching careers on the show. He’s a much more private person than his wife, with just six posts on an Instagram account that he only set up a couple of months ago.

He and Batsheva got married when they were 19 and still living in their Orthodox Jewish community. Days after their wedding, Julia left the religion, prompting her children to rethink the role of Orthodox Judaism in their own lives. While Batsheva’s sister Miriam embraced a new, modern lifestyle fully, Batsheva struggled more with the decision to leave the community.

She says on My Unorthodox Life that she didn’t speak to her mom for a while, and it was Ben who kept those lines of communication open. Eventually, she came around and followed after her mom. “I’ve found my own way in the religion,” she says on the show, adding that she still keeps up many of the religious traditions.

Ben has also had a hard time adjusting to Batsheva’s changing beliefs. Although he expressed multiple times on the show that he’s willing to keep an open mind, he expressed being uncomfortable with his wife wearing pants and delaying having children. But he was willing to let Batsheva make her own decisions, and the two are still happily married.

“I’m usually better at articulating my thoughts in text than I am in person ... but at this moment I don’t have words to express my love and appreciation for you @batshevahaart,” Ben wrote in a recent Instagram post. “Everyday [sic] you inspire me and make me proud to be your husband. I’m grateful for your unwavering support and companionship. You make me happier beyond my wildest dream and I’m very excited for what the future holds. Here we go!”

She kept her ultra-Orthodox past secret. Now she's using Netflix to tell her story

Yahoo News 15 July, 2021 - 06:32pm

There are the 42 or so years she spent in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, playing the role of devout wife and mother — a chapter that was “all about what was done to me,” she says. Then there is the eight-year period “about what I’ve done,” including leaving behind her insular way of life, changing her name, launching a line of wearable high-heeled shoes, and rising to become chief executive of Elite World Group, a leading fashion talent agency.

"I'm like 50 and 8 at the same time,” says Haart, clutching a piping hot cup of Starbucks on a muggy morning in July. While most of us are reluctantly making the shift back into real clothes after 18 months in soft pants, Haart looks ready for the front row in a tweed Valentino skirt suit and towering black platform heels. All 5 feet ¼ inch of her are tucked into a plush chair in the lobby of the luxury Tribeca high-rise where she lives with her second husband, entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia Haart.

About an hour away is Monsey, N.Y., the suburban town where Haart once lived as a member of a Yeshivish Jewish group in which gender roles were rigidly circumscribed: Men were expected to study the Torah, and women were to raise large families and dress with extreme modesty. Access to the outside world, via television, the internet, radio and newspapers, was virtually prohibited.

“We lived in the 1800s,” says Haart, who jokingly calls herself a time traveler.

Haart’s unlikely transformation from sheitel-wearing housewife to fashion big wig is the subject of “My Unorthodox Life.” The Netflix reality series, which debuted Wednesday, follows Haart and her four children — including a bisexual app developer and a Shabbat-keeping TikToker — as they attempt to forge their own personal, professional and spiritual paths.

It’s a story that she guarded closely for years and has not shared widely — until now.

“Until I felt that I had accomplished something, I didn't want people to know about my past,” says Haart, who only started talking about her background once she’d been tapped as creative director of La Perla, the luxury lingerie line, in 2016, “because I didn't want what was done to me to define me. I wanted what I had done to define me.”

Even now, there are many details she is reluctant to divulge, at least until her memoir, “Brazen” — which she has whittled down to 400 or so pages from 1,700 — is released next year. But these are the basics: Haart was born in Moscow and moved around the world with her family as a child, eventually settling in Monsey at the age of 11.

Though her world was centered on the yeshiva, Haart, as a woman, was not encouraged to read religious literature, “because my mind wasn't capable of grasping it, you see. I was told, ‘Women’s minds are light’ — ‘nashim da'atan kalos,” she says in Hebrew. (As if to immediately disprove this notion, she responds to an offhand question about the differences between her Yeshivish community and the Hasidic sects that live in the same area with a concise history of 19th century European Judaism.)

The eldest of eight children, she is 10 years older than her next sibling and, as an adolescent, was thrust into the role of caretaker. “I changed their diapers and wiped their snotty noses. By the time I was married, I already had seven children,” says Haart.

When she was 18, Haart changed her name from Julia to the more Hebrew-sounding Talia in order to attract a match. A year later, she was married off to a near-stranger. They eventually had four children, a relatively small number by the standards of the community. She spent her days cooking, serving her husband and downplaying her interest in the books that lined the shelves of their home.

Though she was outwardly obedient, Haart couldn’t completely repress her creative, inquisitive nature. She taught herself to sew at 16 and would make the tznius — modest — version of what she saw in the fashion magazines she smuggled into the house.

Later, as a married woman, she often was reprimanded for dressing in bright colors — to which she always had the same reply: “The day God stops making flowers, I'll stop wearing colors.” (In an early episode of “My Unorthodox Life,” she returns to Monsey and goes grocery shopping while wearing a low-cut, shamrock green romper.) She once was pulled into the rabbi's office for dancing too provocatively around other women at a wedding — where genders were always kept separate — and told she hadn’t been blessed by God with more children because her clothes were too form-fitting. (In fact, she’d secretly gone on birth control.)

There were periods of desperation. In the year before she left, Haart thought about committing suicide but worried how the stigma of mental illness would affect her children’s marriage prospects. So she tried to starve herself to death, dropping down to 73 pounds. She is explaining her thought process — “What’s the most inoffensive way to commit suicide, where my kids will still be able to get married?” — when her daughter, Miriam, 21, enters the room.

“She’s the reason I'm alive today,” Haart says of Miriam, a student at Stanford and a proud bisexual whose active dating figures prominently in “My Unorthodox Life.” Like her mother, Miriam favors a bold personal style: She's wearing platform sneakers and a Gucci track jacket with matching shorts.

Haart says Miriam, an innately curious and rebellious child, asked questions about their way of life from a young age: Why wasn’t she allowed to ride a bike? Why couldn’t she play soccer or go to sports camp?

“All the things I’d been thinking in my head, she was saying them out loud, except I thought I was a bad person for thinking this way. But no one could convince me that a 5-year-old was evil,” Haart says. “Miriam gave me the permission to say, ‘Something’s not right.’ I was 35. That’s when my whole journey began.”

Haart emphasizes that she did not simply walk out the door one morning. Her departure was a painstakingly gradual process that played out over a period of eight years, in part because she was terrified of losing her children. She read voraciously to learn about the outside world, and began surreptitiously selling life insurance in order to squirrel away an escape fund. Even after she left, Haart waited a while to ditch her modest garb. "I was too scared to take everything off," she says.

Though she was an impressionable adolescent when her mother left, Miriam never questioned the decision. “My friends would come up to me and say, ‘We are so sorry about your mom.’ But I knew that she had to do what she was doing. I was never upset about it.” In fact, it inspired her to take risks of her own, learning to code by sneaking onto YouTube on her brother’s laptop.

For her older sister, Batsheva, who was a 19-year-old newlywed when their mother fled the community, the transition was more painful — at least at first. “The initial shock of it was hard to cope with,” says the 28-year-old influencer, who grew up without social media but now has more than a million followers on TikTok. She remains observant but no longer adheres to the stringent codes of modesty and describes herself as “on the modern side of Modern Orthodox.” “I’ve learned that everybody has their own path to happiness, and I'm so thankful that my mom did leave, because I wouldn't be leading the life that I am today and having all these opportunities if she hadn’t,” she says.

In her previous life, Haart was known as Talia Hendler. This was her prison name, she says — “the name I had when I was told that I was nothing." She wanted to re-create herself, so she came up with a new name: Julia Haart. (Haart is derived from her maiden name, Leibov, which is similar to the Hebrew word for heart. Both of her daughters have since adopted the last name.)

Haart launched her eponymous shoe collection, a line of mega-high heels designed with comfort in mind, in 2013. “It genuinely didn't occur to me that I would fail, because I was so f— ignorant,” she says. Within a few years, her shoes were available in 17 countries. A collaboration with La Perla led to her appointment as creative director. She made waves by being audacious, creating a sheer gown for Kendall Jenner to wear to the Met Gala using a single nylon string and 85,000 beads. She met her now-husband through her work with La Perla, and they married in 2019. (He took her last name, naturally.)

Since stepping into her role at Elite World Group, Haart has made it her mission to revolutionize the modeling industry by helping talent build brands with long-term potential. “My goal is to help create an army of financially independent, strong women who will never have to ask permission and never feel less than great,” she says.

Haart’s ascent has been rapid but, she says, there’s no other way: “43 years of my life have been stolen from me. I don't have time.”

”She approaches everything in her life with this very purposeful sense of urgency,” says her colleague and best friend, Robert Brotherton, who costars in “My Unorthodox Life” and knew nothing of Haart’s past until he’d worked closely with her for more than a year.

Even before the series' premiere, Haart began receiving a flood of grateful social media messages from women who’ve been through similar ordeals; she grows tearful as she reads one of them aloud and expresses hope that "My Unorthodox Life" will inspire people who feel trapped by their circumstances. “Maybe someone will watch the show and say, ‘Well, if this crazy woman can do it at 43 with no education, knowing no one in the outside world, basically being a time traveler, I can do it too.’”

Many people who go off the derech — or off the “path” of ultra-Orthodox Judaismare shunned by their families. Haart is estranged from most of her siblings but maintains a friendly relationship with her ex-husband, who even appears in “My Unorthodox Life."

As a parent, Haart says the one thing she does proselytize about is the importance of sexual pleasure, giving both her daughters vibrators as gifts. “If you don't know how to pleasure yourself, you're never going to get someone else to pleasure you, right?”

Haart repeatedly notes that her issue is not with Judaism — or any particular faith — but with fundamentalism of any kind.

“I love being Jewish. We still do Passover, my style, because I'm in a bikini and they're eating kosher food. But it works,” she says. “The fact that my children are with me, and they're my best friends in the world — it's a f— miracle.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Find out how the designer made it big after starting over.

The owner of Israel's Beitar Jerusalem soccer club said Thursday that he called off a friendly match with international powerhouse Barcelona over its refusal to hold the event in contested Jerusalem. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, annexed it in a move not recognized internationally, and considers the entire city its capital. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and the city's status is one of the thorniest issues in the decades-long conflict.

Touching or disturbing a Hawaiian monk seal is a Class C felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

The numbers of flies counted by inspectors in many of the failed inspections on the Sick and Shut Down List almost beggars belief.

TikTok star Hunter Echo, 21, has been accused of engaging in predatory behavior toward 17-year-old 'Stranger Things' star Millie Bobby Brown.

The new Netflix reality series is addictive, yes—but potentially harmful.

The reality TV couple's Magnolia Network launches Thursday.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was injured in an altercation perpetrated by his wife, Kalabrya Gondrezick-Haskins, at a Las Vegas hotel earlier this month, according to multiple reports. The story was first reported by 8 News Now in Las Vegas. Gondrezick-Haskins has been charged with battery and domestic violence resulting in bodily harm, a felony [more]

Joe Exotic's convictions in the murder-for-hire plot were upheld, and he's expected to be resentenced at a later date.

Some thought the boyfriend's behavior was abusive.

A US company is told to stop producing a customised firearm covered in what looks like Lego.

"There are still people alive who know more about what happened that night. Even if it's not what I want to hear, the truth at least has some dignity about it"

Joanna Gaines explained on the Today show that when it comes to her five kids, she doesn't want constantly checking their smartphones to "be part of who they become"

The boy’s family was visiting from Ohio.

The Silva sisters dish on what to expect when their 90 Day Fiancé spin-off returns, and more.

In a video that hit social media this weekend, rapper DaBaby was seen refusing to pay $200 for candy being […] The post DaBaby defends refusing to pay $200 for candy being sold by children appeared first on TheGrio.

Jonah Goldberg compared Laura Ingraham's current vaccination skepticism with her Operation Warp Speed cheerleading when Donald Trump was president.

The woman's sister was dating her ex.

TikTokers aren't sure what's more beautiful: her purple balayage, or their special bond.

Who Is Julia Haart? Here's Everything We Know About Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life' Star

Esquire 15 July, 2021 - 06:13pm

Haart fled her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to start a fashion empire.

Eight years ago, Julia Haart was a homemaker and mother of four living in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City. Today, she’s the co-owner and chief executive of modeling conglomerate Elite World Group, the founder of fashion brand e1972, and Netflix’s latest reality star. Haart’s unconventional path to heading a global talent empire is the subject of My Unorthodox Life, a new Netflix docu-series chronicling the glitz and glamour of her work, along with the ups and downs of raising four children. If you’re not plugged into the fashion world, you may not have heard of Haart, but her star has been rising for years.

After years of demurring about her complicated past, My Unorthodox Life signals Haart’s decision to go public with her unconventional story. Early next year, Haart will go into even further detail in the memoir Brazen: My Unorthodox Journey from Long Sleeves to Lingerie.

Julia Haart From ‘My Unorthodox Life’ Is Worth Millions

Women's Health 15 July, 2021 - 01:19pm

The CEO also has a new memoir out soon.

My Unorthodox Life tells the story of Julia Haart's escape from an ultra-strict Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County, New York. When the first season dropped on Netflix this week, viewers instantly had questions about Julia's new, seemingly (very) wealthy lifestyle. Now the head of a massive shoe company, fans are wondering just how much Julia is worth.

"It didn't occur to me that it's strange to start a shoe brand when you've never made a shoe," Julia told People. "You don't know what you're capable of until you get up and try." That can-do attitude has helped her build a massive talent-management empire, a successful shoe brand, and more.

"I was so determined that I didn't stop to wonder if I would fail," she said. "It was success or death." Here's exactly how much Julia has succeeded and all the details about her net worth.

Apparently, reality series stars usually make more money than contestants in competition series do, according to The Guardian. So it's likely Julia made a good amount of money from her appearance in the show's first season.

"It's my dream that someone will see the show and give themselves permission to go after what they want, acknowledge what makes them unhappy and fight to decide who they are," Julia told People. "Because it's never too late to change your life." There's no word on a potential season two yet, though.

Based on her LinkedIn, Julia is currently the CEO, Co-Owner and Chief Creative Officer of Elite World Group. The "talent media" company represents more than 5,000 actors, artists, models, and others worldwide. (FWIW, some of those models include Kendall Jenner, Iman, and Irina Shayk.) Julia's husband, Italian entrepreneur Silvio Scaglia, also works at Elite World Group alongside her. Her CEO gig pulls in almost $2 million a year, or $400,000 a month, according to Trend Net Worth.

When she first started her career, Julia built her own shoe brand from the ground up. "I had investors who helped me, but it was a string of miracles and meeting people," she told People. "Like the person who produced my shoes, I met on an airplane. I found the factories in Italy myself, and I did the public relations, the sales — everything."

Once the brand took off, Julia sold it for a hefty amount. She then went on to serve as the creative director for La Perla, an Italian fashion house that specializes in lingerie.

Pretty sure she made a decent salary for designing so many garments: "For example, this last season I had 250 ready-to-wear pieces, but then I had probably 3,000 or 4,000 lingerie pieces, and probably a couple hundred beachwear pieces. So you do the math," Julia told The Cut back in 2018. (My head hurts just trying.)

On top of her high-powered job, Julia somehow found the time to write a memoir, Brazen. The memoir describes her "double life" and her "journey from a world of 'no' to a world of 'yes.'" You can pre-order the hardcover book now for $27.00 before it officially launches in March 2022.

Between her job, her book, and her penthouse in New York complete with a custom, Clueless-inspired closet (per Entertainment Tonight), just how much is Julia really worth? A cool $600 million, according to a source close to Julia. And it looks like, based on all of her success so far, her bank account is set to soar higher and higher.

Entertainment Stories