He rose to international fame with his role as Akiva Shtisel, a talented ultra-Orthodox artist who lives with his father Rabi Shulem Shtisel in Jerusalem. Instead of getting married, Akiva courts a widow with a son and daydreams about becoming a modern art painter. This year, Michael Aloni (38) stars in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem after exchanging the sidecurls and the kippah for a Sephardic delicatessen store, Spanish traditions and the curse of not marrying the woman he loves.

(Read our various articles about Michael Aloni in the film category Shtisel and 25 Facts About When Heroes Fly.)


The Israeli TV show starring Michael Aloni premiered internationally on Netflix on 20 May 2022 with ten episodes (1 to 10). Episodes 11 to 20 will be broadcast on Netflix on 29 July 2022.

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem will return for season 2 and season 3. The production of season 2 began in early June in Israel. The new seasons will be broadcast on Netflix in 2023.

Set in the early-mid 20th century, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem unravels, recreates, and brings to life the story of a family set against the backdrop of the Ottoman Empire, The British Mandate, and Israel’s War of Independence. The series, which begins in 1917, is a colorful, passionate, and tragic story interwoven with Judeo-Spanish traditions and the history of a nascent country. 

Old Gabriel Ermosa (Michael Aloni), his wife Rosa and his daughters Luna and Rachelika celebrate the birthday of Becky, the youngest Ermosa family member.

The series, which premiered in Israel on 7 June 2021, is based on the number one international best seller The Beau­ty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi. Set against the Golden Age of Hollywood, the dark days of World War II, and the swinging ’70s, the novel follows generations of unforgettable women of the Ermosa family as they forge their own paths through times of dramatic change.

David (Israel Ogalbo) and Victoria (Mali Levi).

Gabriela, the narrator, feels com­pelled to under­stand the con­flicts and mis­un­der­stand­ings ever-present in her Sephardic fam­i­ly. Her difficult rela­tion­ship with her moth­er Luna, the most beau­ti­ful woman in Jerusalem, is final­ly addressed when her grandmoth­er Rosa and her aunt Rachel hes­i­tat­ing­ly reveal the tragedies, secrets, and betray­als that have mold­ed the Ermosa family’s com­plex lives.

David (Israel Ogalbo) and Luna (Swell Ariel Or).

The new historical, multi-generational costume melodrama was created by Shlomo Mashiach, Ester Namdar Tamam and Oded Davidoff. The series was written by Shlomo Mashiach (Your Honor) and directed by Oded Davidoff. It stars Michael Aloni (Shtisel, When Heroes Fly, Virgins), Hila Saada (The Baker & The Beauty), Itzik Cohen (Fauda), Yuval Scharf (McMafia), Mali Levi (The Angel) and introduces newcomer Swell Ariel Or who plays Luna Ermosa, the titled Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.

Gabriel Espinosa (Michael Aloni), a Sephardic Jew, was madly in love with Rochel (Yuval Scharf). He couldn’t marry her, because his parents didn’t accept an Ashkenazi wife for their son.

Filmed in Hebrew, English, Ladino, Turkish and Arabic, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem aired on Yes TV in summer 2021 and represents the broadcaster’s largest financial investment to date. It is also one of the most expensive Israeli film productions. Yes TV has commissioned two seasons of the series.

Rosa’s elder brother was hanged by the Turks (Hila Saada), while her younger brother was incarcerated by the British.

Dafna Prenner, Co-CEO of Artza Productions, said: “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is a period drama about issues that are as relevant as ever today, a family tale of different generations that keep on making the same mistakes and a love story about the absence of love.”

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem was shot throughout Israel including historical locations in Jerusalem and Safed.

Avram (Fauda actor Itzik Cohen) reads and writes letters for analphabets like Rosa.

The new series is produced by Dafna Prenner and Shai Eines from Artza Productions and is distributed by Yes Studios, the Tel Aviv-based producer and distributor behind Fauda, Your Honor, and Shtisel.

The Queen of Jerusalem premiered in Israel on 7 June 2021. Netflix brought the series to international audiences worldwide on 20 May 2022.

Photos: Courtesy of Nati Levi and Yes Studios


Curious to know more about the actors and actresses of the new Israeli show? Check out their Instagram accounts (just click on the name): Michael Aloni (Gabriel Espinosa), Hila Saada (Rosa Espinosa), Swell Ariel Or (Luna), Mali Levi (Victoria), Yuval Scharf (Rochel), Luna Mansour (Aisha; the actress also played Marwa Awadalla, Al Makdasi’s sister-in-law, in Fauda); Irit Kaplan (Mercada Espinosa); Itzik Cohen (Avraham).



This article was first published on 12 April 2021 and updated in May 2022.

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