Standing in her closet amid countless articles of designer clothing, Julia Haart discusses dating and pleasure with her youngest daughter, Miriam. The mother-daughter duo are unmistakably made from the same mold as they echo each other’s critiques of Jewish fundamentalism and speak unabashedly about love and freedom.
Julia and Miriam Haart are no longer religious but Julia’s other children, Shlomo, Batsheva and Aaron, still are to varying degrees. In the Haarts’ new TV show, “My Unorthodox Life,” viewers are taken along on the family’s journey as they come to terms with their faith and relationships outside of Orthodox Judaism.
Meet the Family: Julia Haart
Until 2013, Haart, then Julia Hendler, lived as a Haredi Jew. She strictly observed the laws of the Torah and even acted as a religious teacher for young Jewish people in her community. But under the guise of a happy, pious housewife, Haart was breaking.
She felt trapped and restricted within her community, where she faced pressure to live up to the ideal Jewish woman. The ambitious Haart craved liberty and a clean slate to start anew. However, due to her lack of higher education, financial independence and social mobility, this proved to be a difficult feat. Haart knew no one would save her if she didn’t save herself and so, shortly after her eldest daughter Batsheva’s wedding, she left Monsey, New York.
This sudden break from the Haredi community resulted in numerous obstacles for Julia Haart and her family but these challenges bred incredible opportunities for growth. Just a few months after Haart’s escape from Monsey, the business-savvy mother of four founded a high heel shoe company focused on marrying style and comfort as well as dumping the age-old “beauty is pain” mentality.
In the years since she commenced her career in fashion, Haart has partnered with the luxury lifestyle company La Perla, designed a notable MET gala dress worn by Kendal Jenner and became CEO of the massive talent agency Elite World Group.
Outside of work, Haart prides herself on her relationships with her loved ones. Because they have such a large spotlight in her own life, Julia Haart’s best friend Robert Brotherton as well as her four children have their own “My Unorthodox Life” plot lines. This gives viewers an even deeper look into the world of the Haarts.
Batsheva Haart and Binyamin Weinstein
As the oldest of Haart’s children, Batsheva spent the most time in their Orthodox Jewish community. She grew up strictly believing the Torah and continues to have faith to this day, although she has made some adjustments to her practice to better fit her new career as a social media influencer.
Now 28, Batsheva is married to Binyamin Weinstien, who she fell in love with at 19. Together Batsheva and Benn explore what it means to be religious Jews living in a setting that is not always in tune with their beliefs.
Batsheva wants to wear pants, delay having kids and focus on her work while Benn is a bit slower to adopt to such modern practices. Although the two young adults clearly share a deep and loving bond, these differences do make for some drama on the TV show.
Like his sister Batsheva, Shlomo maintains his belief in the Jewish faith but chose to leave Monsey shortly after his mother. In “My Unorthodox Life” viewers watch Shlomo as he works to balance his family, religion and dating life. As a recent graduate of Columbia University, the 25-year-old is at a point of transition in his life, adding an element of uncertainty to his storyline that is both relatable and intriguing.
Despite being a college graduate, Shlomo has little to no experience in the realm of dating. Caught between the ideals of Monsey and New York City, Haart’s son was playing a game of tug-a-war with his love life. But now, with the encouragement of his mother and sisters, Shlomo is making strides to form connections and break out of his comfort zone.
Miriam is the most progressive of the Haart children. The 21-year-old has followed in her mother’s footsteps by legally changing her last name to Haart, letting go of religion entirely and centering her occupational trajectory on women-focused work.
Miriam is also bisexual, which often becomes a focal point of conversation with the more religious side of her family. Dating both men and women is a way of life that stands in sharp contrast to the Haarts’ past life as ultra-Orthodox Jews. Although Miriam appears to be completely comfortable with her sexuality, the same cannot be said for the whole “My Unorthodox Life” cast, creating conflict and sparking disagreement among the family.
Haart’s youngest son still lives in Monsey with his father. Aaron is 14 and the most devoted follower of Jewish scripture in the Haart-Hendler family. Unlike the other Haart children, Aaron has shown no desire to become less Orthodox. In fact, Aaron vies to perform his faith under the strictest interpretation of the Torah.
Starting high school, Aaron wants to attend a religious institution despite his mother’s wishes for him to become more progressive like the rest of the family. The teen boy doesn’t want to risk talking to girls or straying from his strong Jewish network. While Haart encourages her son to watch TV, travel and date, Aaron pushes back, making for a shocking reversal of familial roles.
The only major character of “My Unorthodox Life” who isn’t a member of the Haart family is Haart’s best friend and co-worker, Robert Brotherton. Although he isn’t technically a Haart, Brotherton fits right into the family, making appearances at dinners, parties and even interventions.
Haart’s second-in-command, Brotherton is the man behind the scenes, making sure fashion shows, vacations and work affairs all run smoothly. The chief operating officer of Elite World Group’s humor is dry and sassy, melding perfectly with the highly energetic and bubbly personality of his professional and social counterpart. In the Haart’s new TV show, Brotherton carries this humor through his most serious and pressing plotlines, such as his quest to find his birth mother as well as in discussions about his insecurities and emotional unavailability.
What’s next for the Haart Family?
Miriam has a new girlfriend, Batsheva is at the height of her influencer career and Julia is pushing to make major changes within the modeling industry, but “My Unorthodox Life” has yet to be renewed for a second season.
It’s now up to you to determine if the TV show is worth its hype. The more viewers the series amasses, the more likely Netflix will be to start filming new episodes!