How a Hasidic Jew Came to Write for a Popular Indian Children’s Cartoon

When Menachem Wecker noticed his son watching a children’s cartoon created in India, he was surprised to see that the screenplay was written by one Dov Ber Naiditch—a name that stood out in the credits. Wecker soon tracked down the name’s owner, an observant Jew who was raised in a devout family of Lubavitch Ḥasidim and has a passion for writing. Naiditch spoke with Wecker about how he found his current vocation:

Through a friend of a friend, [Naiditch] connected with Marc Lumer, a Los Angeles-based children’s book artist, and the two collaborated on Babel, [a retelling of the biblical story for children]. When Lumer landed a job with India’s largest animation company, Green Gold Animation, he asked Naiditch to join him.

At Green Gold, Naiditch started writing for Mighty Little Bheem—the show my toddler was watching—a spinoff of the country’s most popular show, Chhota Bheem. “It’s about a kid with super strength,” Naiditch said. . . . Since joining Green Gold, Naiditch has written for the PBS-affiliate children’s show Sounder & Friends, which teaches phonics, and is pitching his own shows to networks.

Naiditch also discussed his own disillusionment with his religious upbringing during his youth, and how he eventually came to appreciate Judaism as an adult:

Naiditch’s “rebel-without-a-cause” teenage years soon gave way to his own understanding of his place within religion, which he could explore on his own terms.

“[Orthodox Judaism] is institutionalized, yes, and anachronistic, and parts are pathological, but my God, it’s like a grand old, dilapidated castle, and I’d been pointing at the mold in the basement but never bothered to look at the upper floors,” he said. “So I gained something like a foundational, personal interest in religious practice as a thing that provided meaning and value to me in the moment, despite my skepticism.”

In his thirties, Naiditch has come to understand better his place across time, as a religious person transmitting both knowledge and meaning from the past to the future.

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Read more at Rough Sketch

More about: Children, Hasidim, India, Judaism, Television

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy