“O.K., so this is the scene where Jeff’s character tries to abduct Shira’s character,” explains Eli—pronounced “Elly”—Rosen in between takes. The white earbuds that snake through his long salt-and-pepper beard are plugged into a walkie-talkie where he can hear the barking of the second assistant director. It’s July, and we’re on the Berlin set of Unorthodox, a mini-series (now streaming on Netflix) loosely based on Deborah Feldman’s autobiography about her escape from the Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to pursue an independent life in Berlin.
Unorthodox’s executive producer Anna LeVine Winger hired Rosen as the show’s Yiddish-language and Hasidic-culture consultant, English-to-Yiddish translator, and co-star. (He also plays a rabbi in the series. And, once a cantor in real life, he lends his voice to the soundtrack.) “The text is actually really powerful and dramatic,” Rosen explains.