The reality show My Unorthodox Life, which just dropped on Netflix, is addictive—and not only because of the extravagant lifestyle that Julia Haart and her family lead. In the span of eight years, she went from an ultra-observant Orthodox Jew, to a non-observant Jew who is CEO of the world’s largest modeling agency—and she’s in an interfaith marriage.
The show is getting a fair amount of flak for portraying Orthodoxy negatively. We’re not going to weigh in on that. This is one woman’s experience, and it does not speak to the experience of all Orthodox women. But there’s no denying that behind the glitz and glamour of Haart’s Tribeca-penthouse-life, the experience she shares is an impactful one: “I was covered up my entire life, so to me, every low-cut top, every mini skirt, is an element of freedom.” But not everyone in her family agrees; some of the most interesting parts of the show are when she and her children debate morals and the meaning of religion in their everyday lives.
Haart’s Italian husband gets bonus points for taking her last name when they married. The founder of Italian telecom giant, Fastweb, Silvio now goes by Silvio Scaglia Haart. Together they co-own Elite World Group, the world’s largest modeling agency.
Despite not always being on the same page about lifestyle decisions, it’s clear that Haart cares deeply about her kids and their well-being. She has four children, who range in age from 11 to upper 20s. They also represent a range of religious observance. Her older daughter, Batsheva Weinstein, was married right before Julia left their religious community and is now living a Modern Orthodox life with her husband, while Haart’s 21-year-old daughter Miriam (who decides on the show to change her last name to Haart) is not religious at all and dates women of different faiths. She’s also passionate about building apps to empower women—something that would have been very challenging in her old community.
“If you watch it, you see that we all love each other,” Batsheva told JTA. “And even though my mom isn’t religious…she’s extremely respectful, you know, does all the holidays with us, makes sure that there’s kosher food options, respects our travel restrictions on Shabbat.”
This nine-episode series takes place in Julia’s modernized present, but she speaks in depth about her ultra-Orthodox past. It’s full of impassioned speeches about feminism and anti-religious fundamentalism, not to mention fashion and tons of bling. Check out the trailer for the show, and stay tuned for Julia’s upcoming memoir.
Not sure what to think of this family? Curious what a “kosher phone” is? Meet the cast as they answer some “Before You Ask” questions—such as their favorite Jewish foods or what they miss about the Orthodox community—in this exclusive Q&A.