Berel Solomon put together the documentary “Orthodoxed” to tell the story of how he turned his life around and embraced Orthodox Judaism.
“Orthodoxed is a documentary that I put together about my life of going from drug dealing and the nightclub business into Orthodox Judaism,” Solomon tells Israel National News. “I have two businesses today and they're not those old businesses.”
He explains that the documentary is “a direct response to all of the anti-Orthodox Jewish movies that Netflix has been putting out the past few years.”
What does he say to people who don’t feel there is anything wrong with Netflix shows such as “Unorthodox” or “My Unorthodox Life,” as they allow for a peak into a unique community?
“That’s a good question,” he comments, explaining that “my particular issue lies with Netflix’s constant portrayal of the Orthodox Jewish community.”
He continues: “If Netflix was a journalist – because that's what they're doing here, they're trying to give people a peek into a certain community that they wouldn't always have a peek into through their journalism – they would not be even handed. If you just for fun type in Netflix ‘Jewish,’ you'll see a dozen videos, 10 of which are all focused on people going out of Judaism. And then you have a movie about the Holocaust. I just felt that they're absolutely not even handed in their reporting. If you actually look at the true story of Judaism, what is happening with all of these organizations, whether it's Chabad or Aish Hatorah or any other organizations, you have tens of thousands of Jews every single year that are coming back to their Jewish roots and I felt that was a very important story to tell.”
Solomon has received thousands of messages from viewers of the documentary who have told him that thanks to watching it, they are returning to Judaism.
“One of the unique things about this documentary was 12 years ago when I was in the nightclub business, I was making a reality show about my company, about my business, and I have hundreds of hours of footage of me in that business, including me with big celebrities,” Solomon says. “One of the biggest celebrities that's in the documentary is Drake, the rapper – Drake, the biggest rapper in the world. The documentary itself had a really even balance and I was really able to show both sides.”
“Every single day, I get dozens and dozens of messages – I’m probably up to two or three thousand messages by now – and I answer almost every single one. Incredible messages: people putting on tefillin for the first time since their bar mitzvah and they're 40-years old, people keeping Shabbat and they were a newlywed family that never kept Shabbat before, or girls that [had left Orthodox Judaism] and they had been experimenting with the nightclub scene. After watching the movie people telling me how inspired they were and all these new things that they took from it,” he explains.
“Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand messages have been extremely positive and then, you know, one in a thousand says that I’m narcissistic for making a movie about myself,” he says. “But you can't you can't please everybody.”
Was he worried about inadvertently portraying the nightclub scene as something attractive and fun in the movie?
“I say it in the movie that there's no high like the high of walking into a nightclub. When that bass hits your body and the lights are flashing and the DJ is going – and wow, the place is on fire. There's no high that I’ve experienced up until this date, including in Judaism, like that high,” Solomon says. “But I have a secret for everybody watching. There's no low like the miserable low when you wake up the next morning from that night life. The low is so deep, it's so shameful, it's so embarrassing, it's so confusing, it's so dark that it far outweighs the high of the nightclub. When we're talking to the youth of today's generation, it's very hard to tell them that those things aren't fun. My strategy is those things are great, don't get me wrong they're fun, but the low is so low.”
Solomon’s next project is a documentary titled “Jewish Money: The Ancient Jewish Secret to Wealth.”
“The whole premise is going to be on giving to charity. Jewish people are famous around the world for their philanthropy,” he says. “A very common Jewish trait is giving, even people that are not religious, not Orthodox. It's just in the soul of a Jew to give charity and our Torah teaches us that we can test G-d with one thing. I’ve done this many, many times in my life where I would give a big sum of money to charity and I would pledge it in the beginning of the year and the miracles that i saw throughout that year were phenomenal.”
He adds: “I did it my first year. I pledged $12,000. I fulfilled it, then 18, then 36, then 72, and then 100. Until this year, right before Rosh Hashanah, I pledged a quarter of a million dollars to charity. And if you ask me how I’m gonna do it, where I’m going to do it, when I’m going to do it, I don't have all those answers. But what I will tell you is that I will fulfill it with G-’d’s help because G-d wants us to test us with this. So my new movie is called ‘Jewish Money’ where I’m going to be interviewing people who also know the secret and who have seen it play out in their lives to bring this secret to the world.”