Esty Shapiro played by Shira Haas wedding scene filming location in UnorthodoxPhoto: Anika Molnar/Netflix

Unorthodox, the groundbreaking miniseries on Netflix about a young Satmar Hasidic woman in Williamsburg, Brooklyn who escapes an arranged marriage was just nominated for Golden Globe awards for “Best Television Motion Picture” and “Best Actress in a Television Motion Picture” for Shira Haas. Are you wondering where Unorthodox was filmed? Did they really film in the Hasidic neighborhoods of New York City? The filming locations for Unorthodox do begin in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, one of the geographic strongholds of Hasidism in New York City (Hasidics and other Orthodox Jews also live in Borough Park and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and in areas across the East Coast). The series then weaves between Williamsburg and Berlin, where the main character, Esther “Esty” Shapiro (played by an incredible Shira Haas) has fled. It will be surprising, even to New Yorkers, what was actually filmed in Brooklyn and what was filmed in Germany.

The series, filmed predominantly in Yiddish, is based on the book Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman, but is not a strict retelling of Feldman’s story allowing for Esty as a character to become her own person. Both New York City and Berlin are popular cities for filming locations, the latter more so recently having hosted the production of The Queen’s Gambit. Unorthodox‘s showrunner, Anna Winger, stated at the beginning of production, “At a time when women’s rights are being challenged the world over, Feldman’s story resonates far and wide. It is a privilege for us, at Studio Airlift, to collaborate with an incredible team of Berlin-based artists and bring this story to screens everywhere.” Here are the filming locations for Unorthodox on Netflix!

1. Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Esty Shapiro played by Shira Haas in Unorthodox on Williamsburg StreetEsther “Esty” Shapiro (Shira Haas) making her escape in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo: Anika Molnar/Netflix

Unorthodox opens with a closeup on a wire hanging from a lamppost. This may not mean much to the average viewer, but it is a symbol and a border for the Orthodox communities. The wires are called eruv or (eruvin, plural) and mark the boundary of the Orthodox Jewish communities, which are very-often impenetrable to outsiders. The dangling eruv forms an early plot point in Unorthodox. The Satmar community was started by Holocaust survivors from Satmar, Hungary. Although the streets and sidewalks are, of course, public city space, the eruvin symbolically reinforce the community’s deliberate isolation. In New York City, there are actually more than twenty eruvin, which is an entry in our book Secret Brooklyn, including one that surrounds Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Yanky Shapiro in front of Williamsburg townhousePhoto: Anika Molnar/Netflix

Unorthodox also shot scenes in Williamsburg proper, such as the exterior of 470 Flushing Avenue where Esty visits her former piano teacher in an industrial loft-like building just off the corner of Walworth Street. In other scenes you see Esty’s husband Yanky Shapiro, played by Amit Rahav, walking across Broadway (the border between Williamsburg and Hasidic South Williamsburg) next to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, and up Broadway near Peter Luger restaurant with the Williamsburg Bridge in the background. Later in the first episode, we also see Yanky and Moishe Lefkovitch, someone the Satmar rabbis has assigned to Yanky to help him locate Esty, go visit a brick townhouse in Williamsburg where Esty’s grandmother lives (and where Esty grew up).

Moishe Lefkovitch atop building on Flushing Avenue in filming location for UnorthodoxPhoto: Anika Molnar/Netflix

In this shot of Moishe above, he’s standing on the rooftop of Esty’s piano teacher’s building, with the new office development at 18-20 Spencer Street in the background that looks reminiscent of the architecture of the Wythe Hotel, also in Williamsburg.