Apple TV+’s ‘Extrapolations’ envisions a Jewish future amid a climate crisis

In the new series, set in 2047, a rabbi tries to save a drowning Miami synagogue.
Jewish actor Daveed Diggs as Rabbi Marshall Zucker in “Extrapolations” on Apple TV+

In “Extrapolations,” a new Apple TV+ series that begins in 2037 amid a climate crisis, Israel and Palestine are two distinct states living in peace, and Jewish actor Daveed Diggs stars as a Black rabbi who addresses a synagogue congregation in Israel in the first episode. (Read about Daveed Diggs’ Jewish identity.)

With forest fires raging all over the world, a climate conference takes place in Tel Aviv.

“I left law school a few years back because I realized the world didn’t need another Jewish lawyer,” Diggs says in his role as Rabbi Marshall Zucker. 

“We live in a time of crisis…it’s like Elise Wiesel said, ‘we must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”

In the third episode, pre-Passover at Temple Israel in Miami, the rabbi speaks about the question mark being Jews’ favorite means of punctuation.

As Miami floods one out of every four days, the congregants literally slush through water. We learn from him that cancer has been defeated, solar energy will cook many of the Passover meals, and American democracy has survived minus Texas. The rabbi leads the congregation in the song “Oseh Shalom.”

The congregation holds a seder amid the climate crisis and when the participants dip their pinkies into wine to commemorate the ten plagues, Rabbi Zucker adds a few more plagues.

Jewish actor David Schwimmer stars as Harris Goldblatt, an affluent man who can get things done. His daughter, Alana (Neka Rose) asks if God cares about her scheduled bat mitzvah in the wake of a possible apocalypse. She has more chutzpah than any 13-year-old Jewish character I’ve seen.

“I care,” he says. “I think God does too.”

She asks if the sea-level rise, droughts and diseases are punishments. Rabbi Zucker tells her that the Torah is merciful and there is forgiveness.

Jewish actor Judd Hirsch stars as David Goldblatt, and in a meeting, he and other synagogue leaders argue about which water pump to use to clear away water in the sanctuary.

In 2047, the synagogue is one of several institutions that apply to be saved by the Department of Sea Level Mitigation. The department can choose to put resources to save buildings from being destroyed by floods.

Rabbi Zucker teaches the principle of “midah k’neged midah” (literally “measure for measure”), which generally refers to the punishment fitting the crime.

The rabbi must make a tough decision where his morals are tested.

Diggs’ acting is on point as is the cast, and the script is certainly aggressive with some characters insulting each other.

Kit Harington, famous for his role as Jon Snow in “Game of Thrones,” plays Nicholas Bilton, a rich man who has the formula that can help alleviate some of the world’s problems. The question is whether he will sell his patents or give them to the countries that need them for free.

Jewish actor Nick Kroll performs the voice of Alpha, which is an advanced version of Alexa. Jewish comic Judy Gold does a fine job as the rabbi’s assistant, Sophie.

In these times, there is also great famine and one can die from a mosquito bite.

In a gritty exchange, Goldblatt tells Rabbi Zucker that “for someone to win, someone has to lose, I think it says that in the Torah.”

“No, that’s basketball, not Torah,” Rabbi Zucker tells him.

When there is a tragedy, Rabbi Zucker attempts to console people. “Sometimes faith means that we must move forward without an answer, armed only with the knowledge an answer will come in time,” he says.

The star-studded cast also includes Edward Norton, Tobey Maguire, Heather Graham, and Forest Whitaker.

The third episode shows Alana’s bat mitzvah, where she asks why the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were killed.

“Were they any different than us?” she asks. 

A powerful hurricane hits Miami.

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