Video: The Zweiflers’ David Hadda, Saffron Coomber & Aaron Altaras

The six-part drama The Zweiflers, brought to the global stage by ZDF Studios, tells the story of a dysfunctional extended Jewish family in Germany as its patriarch, Symcha Zweifler, prepares to sell his delicatessen empire. When he is confronted by his past in Frankfurt’s red-light district, the family must contend with long-suppressed conflicts.

“I carried this idea of doing a family show for many years,” says David Hadda, creator and writer of the series. “If you look at Jewish stories coming from Germany, there is a certain narrative of [being] victims. We wanted to change that narrative to tell something that is empowering.”


In order to make the series as authentic as possible, Hadda continued writing throughout the casting process. “Since the [aim] was always to do a story from an insider’s perspective, [and] I knew I had actors who have their own stories and experiences that they bring to the table, I wanted to use that in the most collaborative way,” Hadda explains. “This influenced the language, storylines and little details that shape the story and the complexity of the characters.”

This even includes details of the restaurant run by Saba Henriques, the partner of Symcha’s grandson Samuel Zweifler. Saba “is very proud of her Caribbean roots,” says Saffron Coomber, who plays Saba. “My roots are Jamaican. That was a big influence. When we were discussing what the menu might look like, being able to bring the food of my heritage to the forefront was amazing.”

Aaron Altaras, who stars as Samuel, notes that he was “very hesitant” to take on the role when it first came to him “because there have often been stories in Germany about Jewish people that are very stereotypical.”

He moved past his hesitation and took on the role, however, because The Zweiflers proved to be “a story about love, family and identity, who you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with,” he says. “And keeping your close people close—that will always be the most important thing in the fabric of society and of human life. It’s a very human, universal story at all times.”