This Sunday evening, CBS will be airing a TV movie called Loving Leah. It's a fictional story about a woman in the Lubavitch community who, recently widowed and childless, will now end up marrying her husband's brother. Of course, the brother is not Lubavitch (or even religious), but that's a separate issue.
Of course, the producers could have actually called up a rabbi -- any rabbi -- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, whatever, and asked "hey, do Lubavitch Jews actually *do* that anymore? Do they really have widows marry their dead husband's brother?" Of course, no one performs yibum anymore -- in fact, we've pretty much outlawed it and mandated chalitzah. But no -- why let a few facts get in the way of a good story?
This reminds me of the episode of Grey's Anatomy where an Orthodox Jewish girl decided it's better to die than to receive a porcine heart valve transplant. Again, a simple phone call to any rabbi would have revealed that any rabbi -- from the frummest Orthodox to the most secular Reconstructionist would have told her that she is not only allowed to have the transplant but that she should actually do so.
What really annoys me about this is not so much the fact that they got it wrong -- heck, we all make mistakes. But the fact that they got something wrong in a community that 98% of the viewing knows nothing about (or worse, has gross misinformation about) only helps to perpetuate bad stereotypes about Lubavitch Jews and Orthodox Jews in general.
So, how about if, instead of making stupid mistakes and painting Orthodox Jews in a bad light, producers actually pick up a phone and run a thirty second plot summary by a rabbi -- any rabbi? Is that too much to ask?
Hat tip: Pesky Settler. (Go to PS's blog and see the YouTube clip of Susan Essman [one of the stars of the show] trashing Lubavitch Jews).