In 1991, REM’s Michael Stipe famously sang, “That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion, trying to keep up with you, and I don’t know if I can do it.” Just over a quarter-century later, Israel Story set out to explore what happens when religious couples no longer see eye to eye. Do you follow your heart? Do you tell your partner? And can the package stay intact, despite the tectonic shifts?

Act I: “Get Off This Ride.” Ever since she was a little girl growing up in an Orthodox community in New York, Dvorah Sasson had questions and qualms. But never one to rock the boat, she ended up marrying exactly the man her parents had in mind for her. A bunch of kids and a move to Israel later, her initial doubts only grew, and Sasson began living a double life. Mishy Harman met up with her at a particularly vulnerable point along the way; just months after coming clean, the fate of her marriage is anything but clear.

Act II: “Fifty Shades of Black.” When Yaakov and Batya Levi got engaged, after a mere five dates in the span of seven days, they could more or less imagine what life had in store for them: He was a star student at the Koilel, and she couldn’t wait to start a large family. But life had other plans. Maya Kosover and Mishy Harman entered the most unusual ultra-Orthodox home they’ve ever encountered, and came out with a turbulent story of love, courage, and compromise.

The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ruth Danon, Nili Fink, and Noam Sadan, who also covered songs by Vashti Bunyan and Ruth Dolores Weiss. This episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum, and produced thanks to the generous support of the JCC Manhattan and the Natan Fund.

Listen to the full episode here, or download it from iTunes. You can hear all of Israel Story’s episodes in English here and in Hebrew here.