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

June 8, 2021 | Menachem Wecker
About the author: Menachem Wecker, a freelance journalist based in Washington DC, covers art, culture, religion, and education for a variety of publications.

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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