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Israeli TV Show About Jewish Vampires to Make International Debut

Move over, Dracula: Juda Ben-Chayim is dead and loving it.

Liel Leibovitz
October 17, 2017
Courtesy HOT
Courtesy HOT

The reports yesterday in the Israeli press claiming that Juda—the acclaimed Israeli TV show about a Jewish vampire fighting bad guys in Europe—would soon air on one or more foreign markets were as mysterious as one of the show’s plotlines. Which markets? And when? All that remains unclear?

And why shouldn’t it be? Nothing about Juda was ever simple. When it debuted last year, critics were ready to dismiss it as a lark, but stunning design, strong writing, and a surprising cast that includes Sara Angel, the former wife of one of Israel’s most notorious criminals and an ex-con herself. As silly as the show’s plot sounded on paper, it made for compelling drama: Gambling away in Romania, hoping for a quick hit, a petty Israeli criminal named Juda Ben-Chayim spends the night with a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Tanya, who, having no taste for foreplay, proceeds to bite Juda’s neck, hoping to drink his blood. But Juda, as the name subtly implies, is Jewish, and so promptly becomes the world’s first Jewish vampire, whose destiny, so says a stern old rabbi, is to destroy all of the other vampires like they were so many Amalekites, paying special attention to the corruptible seed of one Dracula. What follows is thrilling, with questions of divine election and scenes of sanguine satisfaction artfully woven together.

So where will this show air next? The producer are tight-lipped, but the show’s star and creator, Tzion Baruch, posted a video on Instagram of a recent recording session in Budapest, suggesting that the Old Continent may have an appetite for vengeful undead Jews hungry for some bloodletting. Here’s hoping someone at Netflix is paying attention…

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.