5 Jewish places that inspired Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’


By Sarah Rosen and Gabe Friedman , JTA

(New York Jewish Week) — Taffy Brodesser-Akner may have told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she doesn’t find “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” her best-selling novel about the fallout from a painful divorce, to be a “Jewish” story. But she did admit that the book — and its TV adaptation that premieres Thursday on Hulu, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes and Lizzy Caplan — is set in a very Jewish New York City milieu and features plenty of Jewish references.

“All I can say is that I am made out of Philip Roth,” she said, name-checking the late novelist who rejected the “Jewish writer label.” “I’m so formed by his books.”

Brodesser-Akner, who grew up on Long Island and in Brooklyn, is also inspired by the Jewish places and institutions that she has experienced. Here are five from throughout her life and career that either show up in the “Fleishman” show or influenced her as she constructed the story.

The New York Public Library 

Brodesser-Akner thinks of this “as a Jewish place for some reason.” Jews are the people of the book, after all.

“I don’t know, I don’t have a comment on it,” she said.

Temple Shaaray Tefila

The show filmed a bat mitzvah scene at this Reform synagogue on the Upper East Side — and the series’ location scout didn’t know that Brodesser-Akner worked there while she was in college.

“I was like, I taught Hebrew School here!” Brodesser-Akner said.

The 92nd Street Y

This Jewish cultural center, which was founded in the 19th century, features in the book as the place where protagonist Toby Fleishman’s children go to camp. Rumor has it that it delayed rebranding itself to 92NY until after the show had finished shooting.

B&H Dairy 

The diner featured in “Fleishman” doesn’t have a name, but Brodesser-Akner said that B&H, an iconic kosher diner on Second Avenue and Eighth Street in the East Village, was the inspiration.

Bar-Ilan University 

After high school, Brodesser-Akner studied at this university in Ramat Gan, Israel, not far from Tel Aviv. “I did it so that I could live outside of an Orthodox household for a year,” she said.

In the “Fleishman” show, the main characters note that they all studied together at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, while Bar-Ilan is referenced in the book.

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