All Of The Jewish References In Season 2 Of ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Events’
Credit: Netflix

The new season is now streaming on Netflix.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” has returned for another sinister season on Netflix, adapting the next five books in Lemony Snicket’s bitter bibliography: “The Austere Academy,” “The Ersatz Elevator,” “The Vile Village,” “The Hostile Hospital” and “The Carnivorous Carnival.” Like last season, this one is chock full of Jewish references, and it’s not hard to see why.

Lemony Snicket is merely a pseudonym for the real author of the series, Daniel Handler, who is Jewish; his father fled Germany in the late 1930s. Handler is also a writer on the show and cleverly hides little Semitic Easter eggs (excuse the interfaith juxtaposition) in every episode. Lucky for you, we kept a running tally while binging Season 2 over the weekend and have broken down each and every one of them below…

WARNING! The following contains spoilers for Season 2 of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events.’

 

“The Austere Academy”




Credit: Netflix

When telling Klaus (Louis Hynes) he will be studying in Room 2 with Mrs. Bass, Vice Principal Nero (Roger Bart) says it “is easy to remember if you think of Tu BiShvat, the Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day.”

While in disguise as Coach Genghis, the show’s villain, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), continues to mispronounce Nero’s last name. At the pep rally, he refers to him as “Shapiro,” a common Jewish last name, which some believe to have originated from the town of Speyer, Germany, in the Middle Ages.

The Baudelaire orphans want to “unmask” Count Olaf at the pep rally by removing his turban and showing the crowd of students and teachers that he has Olaf’s trademark unibrow. Olaf (as  Genghis) refuses, citing that he cannot remove his turban for religious reasons. When asked what religion that might be, one of his henchman (the man with hooks for hands) whispers, “Reconstructionist Judaism.”


 

“The Ersatz Elevator”




Credit: Netflix

Librarian Olivia Caliban (Sara Rue) talks about “the parade of tsuris that plagued the Baudelaires.” Tsuris is a Yiddish word for trouble, woe or aggravation.

In Herring Houdini (a fish-theme restaurant), Count Olaf, as Gunther, breaks out into a musical number about chasing one’s schemes. One of the lyrics is “you gotta schlep, schlep schlep,” a Yiddish word, which here means, hussle and work hard in order to achieve one’s dreams.


 

“The Vile Village”




Credit: Netflix

Upon receiving his overpriced Sarsaparilla in the bar of the Village of Fowl Devotees, Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman) informs the barman (actually Count Olaf) that the Baudelaires are now the resposiblity of the entire town. “Mazel Tov!” he proclaims to which Olaf says “L’Heimlich,” a mispronunciation of the word “L’Chaim,” meaning “to life,” a phrase often used when toasting with alcoholic beverages. “L’Heimlich” might also be a reference to the next installment of the show, which takes place at Heimlich Hospital.

When leaving the bar, Poe says that he and his wife took a trip to a Kibbutz, a collective community in Israel which operates on Socialist ideals and agriculture.

In the town of VFD, the Baudelaires come to live with Hector (Ithamar Enriquez), the town’s handyman. He refuses to talk about what the Council of Elders did to his mother, but finally admits she wore white after Yom Kippur and was slapped with a heavy fine before moving to the city. It is customary to where white on the holiday of Yom Kippur to symbolize purity and to remind us that we are literally repenting for our lives. The usual garment worn by men is called a “kittel” and is reminiscent of the simple burial shroud Jews are wrapped in after they die.

Poe returns to VFD when the Baudelaires are jailed for the murder of Jacques Snicket (Nathan Fillion). They plan a daring escape and explain that involves smashing one of the walls. When Olaf (masquerading as Detective Dupin) asks what all the noise is, the children say they’re celebrating Klaus’s birthday. Mr. Poe remarks that the teenage years can be tough and that he was the only kid in his class not be bar or bat miztvahed.


 

“The Hostile Hospital”




Credit: Netflix

Keep an eye out during the sequence of Olaf chasing the orphans through the Last Chance general store in the Hinterlands. On one of the shelves you’ll spot a kiddush cup and a menorah.

Olaf threatens his theater troupe while on the way to Heimlich Hospital, prompting the White-Faced Women (Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins) to exclaim “OY!” a Yiddish word usually connoting trouble or annoyance.


 

“The Carnivorous Carnival”




Credit; Netflix

In a flashback at V.F.D. headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains, we meet Aunt Josephine’s (Alfre Woodard) husband, Ike. He’s played by director Barry Sonnenfeld (“Men in Black”), an executive producer on the show, who is also from a Jewish family in New York City.

Many years after Madame Lulu was pushed into the lion pit, Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) visits the charred remains of the Caligari Carnival and places a stone at the lip of the pit. It is a custom in Judaism to place a sone on or near the grave of someone who has passed away as a way to signify the enduring presence of one’s life and memory.

 

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Netflix

Lemony Snicket

Daniel Handler

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