Kids Corner

A Jewish family and a Sikh family switch homes and lives in episode 8 of NBC social experiment docu-series, “Home Sweet Home.” (Photo by Casey Durkin/Peacock)


A Jewish Family and a Sikh Family Swap Homes in New Show

Brian Fishbach

A new NBC show about families of different backgrounds switching homes,  “Home Sweet Home,” may sound like reality television, but the Peacock network describes it as a “social experiment.” 

One particular episode features two families of five from La Cañada—a Sikh family and a Jewish family—that each spend three days immersing themselves with the other’s customs, friends, extended family and cuisine. 

The Jewish family, the Segals, includes Josh, a landscape architect and Gina, a caterer from the San Fernando Valley. The two met on JDate in 2008 and have three children ranging in age from seven to 10 that attend Jewish day school. 

“I think it would be great for all of us to be reminded of how diverse and different the world is because we don’t normally see that,” Josh said on the show before the social experiment began.

The Sikh family, the Singh-Kaurs, includes Bhajneet, an entrepreneur who runs a women’s apparel business and writes children’s literature, and Natasha, an anesthesiologist. They have three children ranging in age from three to six. 

“After 9/11, anyone with a turban or a beard was just labeled ‘a terrorist,’” said Natasha. Bhajneet pointed out how hurtful stereotyping over the last two decades has led to violence against Sikh-Americans.
“This is such an amazing opportunity to explain to the world who we are, what we stand for and how we live,” Bhajneet said.

In a press release, Ava DuVernay, the creator of “Home Sweet Home,” said that she strives to amplify different voices, cultures and experiences in all the work she and her team at ARRAY Filmworks create.

“My hope is that audiences will find understanding, perspective and appreciation for not only the families featured on the show, but with their neighbors in real life,” DuVernay said. She received multiple award nominations for directing both the 2014 civil rights drama “Selma” and the 2016 documentary “13th.” 

Neither the Segals nor the Singh-Kaurs had any idea who was taking over their home beforehand. Both families left a binder full of rules and customs to abide by, and both had their own extended families participate in an activity with the guest family. 

It’s hard not to get excited about what’s to come when you hear the anticipation in the voices of both families’ children on the initial drive to the new home. There are moments that will make you laugh, such as the Singh-Kaur family playing a “Yiddish dictionary game” where the kids have to guess the meaning of Yiddish words. One of the words that comes up is the word “mensch.”

“I know this word because Ajeet’s teacher calls you a mensch because you did the right thing that time that all the boys were not doing the right thing,” Bhajneet said to his six-year-old son. 

And when Bhajneet’s sister comes to immerse the Segals in Sikh customs, she helps the Jewish family wrap and adorn the colorful turbans on their heads and leads the Segals in a demonstration of a drum-filled Sikh prayer session.

Food plays a large role in the show. Gina’s mother Beth leads the Singh-Kaurs in a meatless Shabbat dinner and teaches them that you never blow out the Shabbat candles. The Segals walk across the street for a paneer potluck dinner with Bhajneet’s parents and siblings. They discuss the immigration journey of Bhajneet’s father and the perils of persecution. 

Gina said that being a tourist in a foreign land only teaches you so much. While not everyone can do a home swap for three days, she puts a high premium on befriending people who are different than you are and kindly asking questions. 

“I think we’re also such a PC society, we’re scared to ask those questions,” Gina told the Journal. “If you can’t ask those questions, then you will never learn, and you will just be scared because it is foreign and unknown to you.” 

Bhajneet’s affinity for teaching children to be open to each other is evident in his work as a children’s literature author. He just published a new book,  “The Surfing Lesson,” about a Sikh family that wants to learn to surf and the challenges they face along the way. He looked back at the show and emphasized how important it is for parents to immerse their children into a diverse world, because that will be their template for life. 

 “This is not a reality show,” he said. “It’s a life experience.”
[Courtesy: Jewish Journal]

Janurary 26, 2022  

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