ChaiFlicks
A screen shot from ChaiFlicks, a Jewish-themed streaming platform. (ChaiFlicks via JTA)

The ‘Jewish Netflix’ is here.

ChaiFlicks, a new streaming service dedicated to Jewish and Israeli entertainment, has just launched and the timing is perfect. 

Created as a Jewish Netflix, ChaiFlicks has over 150 acclaimed movies, TV series, documentaries, short films and theater selections, including multiple award-winning and classic films, and it is available on every major streaming device. It’s founded by Neil Friedman and Heidi Bogin Oshin of Menemsha Films, and Bill Weiner, formerly of New Regency Productions.

1945 - ChaiFlicks
1945 – ChaiFlicks ChaiFlicks

“It’s a one-stop-shop for Jewish entertainment,” Oshin said. “We are thrilled to bring quality Jewish and Israeli programming to the streaming universe.”

The inspiration for ChaiFlicks was a response to the real Net-flix creating more of its own original content and purchasing fewer titles from distributors.

Although Friedman sold two movies to Netflix in the past, the company declined 1945, a Hungarian drama about the Holocaust which brought in $1 million at the box office and earned 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

“We threw up our arms and said we can’t run our company relying on others to make our acquisitions… It’s time for us to be the masters of our own destiny,” he said.

The Women's Balcony 2 - ChaiFlicks
The Women’s Balcony 2 – ChaiFlicks ChaiFlicks

In this COVID-19 pandemic, with movie theaters shuttered for an indeterminate amount of time, the founders knew this was the right plan at the right time.

“We knew people are at home with nothing else to do. They can’t go to the office and work. We should start this now,” Friedman said.

La Rafle - ChaiFlicks
La Rafle – ChaiFlicks ChaiFlicks

With 80 Jewish and Israeli titles from Menemsha’s library and programming acquired from the American Sephardi Federation and the Jewish Women’s Theater, they built a catalog to appeal to every interest.

The most viewed title so far is Left Luggage, winner of the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. Set in 1970’s Antwerp, a Holocaust survivor is obsessed with finding the luggage filled with items he buried when he escaped from the Nazis. His daughter, a nonobservant young philosophy student, becomes a nanny for a Chasidic Jewish family and as the story unfolds, they all learn powerful lessons from each other. Left Luggage portrays the power of love to transform lives, and the heartbreak of sudden tragedy; it is one of those movies that you think about long after the movie ends.

Another delightful show, Soon By You, is a hilarious, Friends-style relatable story of a group of young Modern Orthodox men and women dating in New York City. From awkward first dates to building friendships, you will want to see every episode.

Dough - ChaiFlicks
Dough – ChaiFlicks ChaiFlicks

For those wanting to know more about Israel’s food, the documentary In Search of Israeli Cuisine shows “the complexity of things here and the beauty of things here.” From home chef to restaurant owner, many cuisines are displayed as they debate the question: “Is there an Israeli cuisine?”

This is just the beginning. According to Friedman and Oshin, three new titles are added each week. By the end of this year, they expect to have 300 films, and by the end of 2021, they plan 1,000 titles and growing. Other plans for ChaiFlicks include more Sephardi titles, as well as theater, dance groups, orchestras and programming for youth.  

“We are trying to include everyone. It’s a great way to get back in touch with your Jewish values,” Friedman said. “Our culture is storytelling, right? You feel a connection with other people who have experienced the culture and the history that we have. These stories are in our DNA.” 

For more information, please visit www.ChaiFlicks.com, download the ChaiFlicks app to your device and start a free 14-day free trial. Subscriptions are $5.99 a month, or $65.99 a year.

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