Plenty has been written about how “Transparent,” the Netflix original show created by Jill Soloway, is the most Jewish show on television. This past Friday, the third season was released, and guess what? It got even Jewier. From a seder on a cruise ship to perfectly implemented Yiddish, here are the seven most Jewish moments from the (not surprisingly) fantastic third season of “Transparent.”
1. Passover aplenty
Literally the first words of this season are “Thoughts on Passover,” spoken by a very lost and confused Rabbi Raquel working on her sermon. “What if the miracle was you? What if you had to be your own messiah? What then?” she muses. The theme of Exodus, of breaking free from your own personal chains, runs throughout the entire season, culminating in a makeshift Passover seder held by the Pfeffermans on the dining room floor of a cruise ship. (This scene is worth watching for Gaby Hoffman’s eye makeup alone.)
2. Jewish hospital, please.
A health scare lands Maura in the hospital during the first episode. Amidst the chaos and confusion of being pushed on a gurney by paramedics, Maura is told she is on her way to the county hospital as that is the closest, to which she replies, “No no please, you have to take me to Cedar Sinai. I’m Jewish! Please take me to Cedar, alright? My name is Pfefferman. You understand? Pfefferman!” The ability of certain Jews to remain their perfect neurotic selves in even the most stressful of situations is truly inspiring.
3. To Shell and Back
One of the characters who goes on the biggest transition this season, especially compared to her mostly stagnant development in seasons 1 and 2 (not a knock on her character–she’s great), is Judith Light’s character, Shelly–the original matriarch of the Pfefferman family. We first see her giving a “temple talk” called “To Shell and Back” about how she dealt with her ex-husband’s coming out as transgender, which includes one of the best lines of the season: “I have emerged from the swamp pit of mishegas.”
This season, the main story line for Amy Landecker’s character, Sarah, is her attempt to join the board of the synagogue and more further explore her own spirituality. Sarah organizes a special taco-themed Shabbat get-together (that ultimately served pupusas, not tacos) called “Henini,” meaning “Here I Am,” in a school gymnasium. Beautiful singing and an epic fight about Israel when Ali’s girlfriend refuses to drink the coffee made from Israeli beans ensues. Typical Friday night.
5. Demo woman
Another highly quotable line comes in a scene with Maura and Josh discussing the unfortunate renovations Sarah’s ex Tammy made to their once beautiful home. When Maura suggests knocking down a glass partition, Josh says, “I think we should call someone. Demo’s a thing. Jewish men don’t do demo,” to which Maura replies, “I am a Jewish woman, Joshy, and Jewish women do whatever the fuck they want.” Amen.
6. More mikvah
A mikvah, the Jewish ritual bath, made its first “Transparent” appearance season one, where Rabbi Raquel and Josh share their first flirtations. It’s back again in the third season, though this time Rabbi Racquel is alone and actually going through the ritual. She is first inspected by a mikvah lady, and then walks into the water, dunks, and says a prayer. It’s an absolutely beautiful moment–though I’m sure lost on many viewers not familiar with this tradition. (Though if they’ve also watched “Orange is the New Black,” they have seen a mikvah before–only that time, it was a lake.)
7. Josh is saved
Yes, I’m going to argue that a scene in which nice Jewish boy Josh Pfefferman gets so moved by his birth son’s preaching in church that he volunteers to be saved by accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior in front of the entire congregation, is the most Jewish moment in season three. Nothing is more Jewish than questioning, well, everything, and though Josh ultimately doesn’t actually believe in Jesus (he later assures his sister that he did not, in fact, convert) searching for answers, and getting super confused along the way, is Jewish to the core.
Seriously, you guys. Watch this show.