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Orange Is the New Black (explicit language)

Orange Is The New Black is an original Netflix show adapted from Piper Kerman’s book “Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.” The show focuses on Piper Chapman, a white middle-class woman in her 30s who is sentenced to 15 months in prison for a decade-old drug smuggling crime. The show has received acclaim for humanizing prisoners and highlighting their plight, particularly when it comes to systematic problems with the American prison system. This scene depicts “Black Cindy,” one of the show’s main characters, as she attempts to convert to Judaism. Sitting in the visitor’s room opposite Cindy, a rabbi expresses confusion as to why he has been asked to the prison. Cindy explains to him that he is part of her “Beit Din” (the Jewish Rabbinical Court), something she needs for her conversion. She says she is prepared to ask three times—”to be told no, and then no, and then yes, and then be a Jew”—and to take the name Tovah (which means good). After encountering some resistance from the rabbi, Cindy convinces him of her sincerity by explaining the tenets of Judaism that are meaningful to her. The scene ends with Cindy/Tovah learning that her conversion is not complete until she has a mikvah (a ritual bath of natural water where she is fully submerged while nude).


Why does Cindy want to convert to Judaism? What are the differences between Christianity and Judaism that she talks about, and how do they relate to her desire to convert?

What are the steps that Cindy needs to go through to convert to Judaism?

What does Boyle mean when she talks about Cindy becoming “a double-hated minority”?

What are some of the reasons for the rabbi’s skepticism at first? What are some of the unsaid reasons that he might be resistant? What changes his mind?


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