NEW YORK (JTA) — “There’s no such thing as a bad date — there’s just a funny story,” says Jessica Schechter, a 28-year-old modern Orthodox woman who teaches acting in New York City and lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
There’s the guy who took her to the action figure section of a Toys “R” Us after dinner and ranted about why Batman was the best superhero.
“Soon by You” — the phrase is one of well-wishing — is generating considerable buzz in New York City’s modern Orthodox community.
A pilot episode, originally devised as a short film, has garnered over 30,000 views on You Tube in its first two weeks online.
“Because then I get a story.” The series’ first episode, titled “The Setup,” follows Hoffman’s character, David, through the streets of New York City into a kosher restaurant, where he is supposed to meet a blind date named Sarah (played by Gottfried).
In a rush, David mistakenly sits with another Sarah, who is expecting a blind date of her own — and, well, comedic consequences ensue.
It’s an entertaining take on the perils of the insular, high-stakes world of modern Orthodox dating — one that resonates deeply with the series’ creators along with a large portion of its audience.
“For a lot of [young modern Orthodox Jews], they’re not dating for fun — they’re dating with a specific goal of marriage in mind,” says Gottfried, 25. And there’s pressure from family members and friends, especially when all of your friends are getting married at a really young age.” Plus, within the community, “there’s a little bit of a stigma attached to single people at a certain age if you’re not married,” she adds.With an initial five-episode run, the team hopes to gain a significant online following — but the aim is to get a deal with a network or streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.For now, “Soon By You” is brought to you via grassroots fundraising efforts, including a campaign through the Jewish Entertainment Network LA, a networking and support group for Jews in the industry.“Soon By You” has received an unexpectedly warm reception.Hoffman, the only married member of the team, says he’s already being recognized by people in his Washington Heights neighborhood, which is home to a sizable modern Orthodox population. In fact, as “Soon By You” got going, Gottfried reached out to “Srugim” creator Laizy Shapiro, who imparted some sage advice: Don’t explain Orthodox Judaism to a broader audience. As Hoffman explains, “Srugim” uses concepts like Shabbat restrictions and a “tefillin date” — a romantic sleepover that involves laying tefillin the morning after — that would seem like insider knowledge to some.I am referring to many excellent frum boys and girls who have a medical issue or some physical disability.