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.

Read more at Rough Sketch

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


While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy