Who wouldn’t want a behind-the-scenes guided tour through Hasidic America? Someone to explain the history of the community and to answer your questions about everything from modesty to matchmakers, from faith to fear? Now imagine your guides to this spiritual subculture were Sarah Jessica Parker and Leonard Nimoy—that’s right: Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Spock.
For a brief, wondrous 95 minutes in 1997, this strange dream was a reality, in the form of a PBS documentary called A Life Apart: Hasidism in America (watch trailer below). Narrated by the strange and dynamic duo of Parker and Nimoy, A Life Apart is a fairly conventional documentary, alternating between contemporary Hasidic weddings, Purim feasts, and daily services with talking-head interviews and historical overview. The directors give us a unique glimpse into a society that most viewers will never see up close, and even include voices of dissent—those who have left the Hasidic community to live a more secular American life.
The film would be fascinating no matter who narrated it, but with Parker and Nimoy at the helm, it truly feels as if worlds—Greenwich Village, a spaceship called the Enterprise, and 19th-century Poland—are colliding.