Punk Jews is a new documentary series that follows the members of the punk Jew movement in New York City’s East Village. There are rock groups who growl in Hebrew, an African American Jewish rapper, painters, and even a fashion designer who has incorporated parts of the Torah into his dresses.
When Director Jesse Mann and Producer Evan Kleinman set out to make the film, they envisioned a full-length documentary about the scene, but after two years they realized that there was just too much for one film. “Along the way, we heard so many amazing and moving stories from the likes of fashion designer Levi Okunov, MC Y-Love, mixed-media artist Rivka Karasik, punk band Moshiach Oi!, and author / philosopher Yoseph Leib, that we realized that we couldn’t fit them all into a single film – so we want to produce a series of mini documentaries,” Mann says.
The pair acquired a co-producer, Saul Sudin, who was already a part of the scene. His wife is an artist. “It’s such a great way to express our culture,” Sudin says. “Not many people understand Hasidic Judaism. Punk Jews shows that faith can be whatever you want it to be. You can express yourself and still be faithful.”
“What excites us about Punk Jews are the stories of people owning their heritage, and having fun with it – and doing so at any cost,” Mann, an Emmy award-winning documentary producer says. “We want to show you how people are creating a place where honoring who you are and where you come from is not mutually exclusive from free expression and creativity.”