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December 18, 2020 12:08 pm

‘Shtisel’ Cast Discuss Season 3 and Returning to Set After Long Hiatus: ‘It’s Still the Feeling of Family’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

(From top left) moderator Jessica Shaw in discussion with “Shtisel” cast members Michael Aloni, Dov Glickman, the show’s co-creator Ori Elon, and cast members Neta Riskin and Shira Haas. Photo: Screenshot.

The cast of the popular Israeli television series “Shtisel” participated in a virtual panel discussion on Thursday and opened up about revising their characters five and a half years after filming season 2 of the show, and what season 3 has in store for viewers.

“There’s a lot to expect from this season,” said actor Michael Aloni — who plays the show’s lead character, Akiva Shtisel — during the live virtual event hosted by The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in New York City and moderated by Jessica Shaw.

The show’s first season was filmed eight years ago and originally aired in Israeli in 2013. Season 2 was filmed five and a half years ago.

The show’s co-creator, Ori Elon, admitted that he was not sure if a third season would even be filmed and Aloni added that after the second season aired, he thought the show was over. He recalled being surprised that fans wanted another season and even when he got the call about filming for season 3.

“The industry here, which is quite different than the industry in the States, is limited with the ability that it has to create more seasons,” he explained. “I thought ok, that’s the end of the road for ‘Shtisel.’ And I wrote this long post [after season 2] on my Facebook saying, ‘Thank you everyone and bezrat hashem we’ll see each other some time.'”

He also credited Netflix, which picked up the show and introduced it to international audiences, saying that the streaming giant “brought us back to life.”

Referring to season 3, he told viewers that it has the “same values and good writing” as the first two seasons — maybe even better.

Michael Aloni as Akiva Shtisel in a scene from the first episode of the show’s third season. Photo: Screenshot.

Actress Neta Riskin said it was “very easy” to tap back into her character, Giti, after so long, and Shira Haas, who plays Ruchami, revealed that the first day on set she finally filmed a scene with Aloni and Dov Glickman, whom she was never on camera with in the previous two seasons.

The 25-year-old, who got confirmation about the third season when she was in Berlin filming the Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox,” said, “‘Shtisel’ is home. It’s been so long but it’s still so natural to go back to this character..it’s still the feeling of a family.”

She told viewers that Ruchami reaches a “new level” of maturity of “being a woman and a wife” in season 3, which would focus on her relationship with Hanina and the “heartbreaking challenges” they face together.

When asked about their craziest encounters with fans, Haas said people have asked to adopt her, and Riskin shared that an extra in the show told her he believed they were married in their past lives.

Season 3 includes a time jump into the future from the previous season, and Elon said he allowed the cast to be involved in deciding where their characters end up.

Without revealing any spoilers about Akiva, Aloni said he cried when he read the script for season 3, recalling, “I had tears in my eyes. I can’t tell you if it was joy or from sorrow, but I think it was a mixture of both. I just wanted to hug Ori for this great season, and role, and for where he took Akiva.”

The cast also reminisced about their auditions for “Shtisel” — Glickman said he never wanted a role more in his life — and they talked about how the show has been accepted by audiences.

“A lot of people are mistaken to think that it’s about religion. It’s not,” Riskin said. “It’s about a certain people living in a certain way.”

Glickman explained, “It’s about relationships between human beings who have desire, love, jealousy, everything about family — and they’re religious. What makes the drama more deep and the conflict more strong is that they have to stand in front of God each day.”

Aloni added, “I think that what ‘Shtisel’ in a way did was build a bridge, to make a realization for both sides of this equation that we are all in the end just human beings. We have the same wills, and dreams, and we are all flawed, maybe in different ways, but we all are. And that’s what makes us humans…At the very end that’s just who we are. And I think ‘Shtisel’ in a way, without even trying to make this, did that.”

Thursday night’s event also gave viewers the chance to watch the first episode of season 3.

The new season will air on Netflix in 2021, though an exact date has yet to be announced.

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