November 8, 2007
Girlz in the hood
'Miriam' and 'Shoshana' live in the Pico-Robertson area. They're seniors at a religious girls' school, they study Torah, dress modestly and keep the Sabbath. |
But Miriam and Shoshana are not your ordinary Orthodox girls. They rap. They use foul language. They fantasize about professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. And they head up a dreidel-rolling gang.
The two faux frumsters are the comedic creations of Kara Luiz and Deena Adar.
The hosts of an online radio show "The Love Drop," on www.nowlive.com, began sketching out the outrageous yeshiva girls gone gansta as part of their improvised on-air rapping.
When they decided to feature the strictly observant yet wildly inappropriate teens in their own rap video, the women enlisted the help of Oren Kaplan, a close friend and experienced director of comedic shorts. Kaplan wrote the catchy beat to accompany the eyebrow-raising lyrics:
"Rachel Segal's the prettiest girl in schoolFilmed at Fairfax High School, the "Miriam and Shoshana" video was posted on YouTube Oct. 9 and has been viewed more than 30,000 times as of this week. The video has also been viewed more than 65,000 times on MySpace.
Most, but not all, of those viewers appreciated the humor, Kaplan said.
Reb Moshe of Tzfat, Israel, was the most vocal in his denunciation of the "hard core Jewish chicks," even though he has never seen the video. In a video response under the YouTube username ilovetorah, Reb Moshe banned the video on behalf of all Jewish people, calling it "terribly disgusting" and urging its creators to use their talents for good.
"He sure succeeded in making me feel guilty," said Kaplan, who added that his cantor mother thought the video was cute. "But I didn't think what we created was that offensive. I'm a strong believer in 'if you don't want to see something don't watch it.'"
JewTube and Yideoz, two Jewish video-sharing Web sites, have removed "Miriam and Shoshana." (You can see it below).
The controversy has had a strong effect on Luiz, who was raised Catholic. As the only non-Jew in the crew, which includes Jewish Journal contributor Seth Menachem break dancing and playing the shofar, Luiz (aka Miriam) is worried about appearing anti-Semitic.
"I really didn't expect this kind of reaction," Luiz said. "I love Jews. I'm in love with a Jew! I didn't intend to offend anyone."
"Anytime you tackle religion in comedy," Adar said, "you risk offending someone. I stand by our comedy."
In spite of the controversy, the bagel-eating, Manischewitz-guzzling yeshiva girls still went ahead with a planned follow-up video: "Chanukah -- Don't Make Us Spell It Out," which should be out the first week of December.
In the meantime, you can catch Luiz and Adar busting rhymes on their Tuesday night broadcasts. Just don't expect them to be reciting Torah.