Some soap operas that are shown in Israel have been in the works for months, if not years. Not so with Daniel Taub’s Hahatzer (“Rebbe’s Court”) that was more of an emergence. “I certainly didn’t intend to write it,” he explains. “But when I suggested a soap opera set in the court of a Hasidic rebbe – a cross between ‘Dallas’ and ‘The Chosen’ – they asked me to write a sample episode,” the British-born and educated Taub adds.
The idea behind the soap opera that takes place and is broadcast in Israel came to Taub as part of a think tank which was seeking to develop unique content for the Jewish TV channel in Israel, Channel 10-Tchelet. Before he wrote the series, he had actually never watched an entire soap opera ever, in Israel or the UK. To write this, he ordered script-writing books on the Internet and looked at old scripts. He then wrote around 26 episodes and it became one of the biggest successes on that channel, getting prime time screening on Saturday nights.
The soap opera screened in Israel but he didn’t write it just for the entertainment value. The idea was to try and use the soap opera and the dilemmas that the characters face to break down stereotypes. Taub is most keen – through his work also as the Director of Strategy and Planning for the Yad Hanadiv Foundation – to turn Israel into a society that is “committed to Jewish values and equal opportunity for the benefit of all its inhabitants, carrying forward the philanthropic tradition of the Rothschild family.”
Indeed, Taub is particularly perturbed by the very prominent religious-secular divide in society in Israel. Hence Hahatzer is fighting against this.