“Bardak!” // An exclusive interview with Israel’s famous chareidi comedic duo, Meni Wakshtock and Efi Skakovsky

Bardak! You might not know the meaning of the word, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the comedic duo known as Bardak. With Meni Wakshtock as the producer, director and occasional actor, and Efi Skakovsky as the main actor, Bardak has quickly become a household name in Eretz Yisrael and among the tens of thousands of others who make up their international following. 

Bardak is a series of short comedic stand-alone videos that cover a range of facets of chareidi life, including hafganot (protests), yeshivah life, dealing with COVID, eating sufganiyot on Chanukah and much more. What makes Bardak unique is that its sketches rival high-budget films in terms of quality while remaining completely kosher. 

Meni and Efi have created iconic characters such as Eisenbach—the Yerushalmi mastermind of hafganot—and Mr. Goldblum, the American gvir. There are certain lines that the average Israeli will immediately recognize as coming from a Bardak sketch. “Toostoos lo yaavor” and “Notenet” are two of the more famous ones. 

While many others have tried making comedic videos, none have achieved the widespread acclaim and success of Bardak. From a business perspective, Meni and Efi have also achieved something unheard of in the chareidi world: viral video advertisements. 

Before joining forces to start Bardak, Meni had a small video production company that created promotional videos and Efi was learning in kollel. They were introduced to one another by a mutual friend, and as the world stayed at home during the height of COVID, they began planning the production of their first several Bardak videos, one in which the Yerushalmi Eisenbach (played by Efi) gets arrested at one hafganah on his way to a second hafganah. Though their first few videos brought little in the way of income, Meni and Efi persevered, believing that these videos were an investment in their respective individual careers. And then companies started calling. First, there were a few small product placements, and then came the requests for video ads. 

For example, they recently released a sketch in which a man goes to his neighbor to return a bottle of the well-known Israeli soft drink Jump. The neighbor (played by Efi) recognizes that the bottle being handed to him is the new version of Jump, which contains more fruit, and so he refuses it on the grounds that it’s considered ribbis because it has “yoter pri—more fruit.” The neighbor counters that it’s the same drink—“Oto HaJump.” In the video, their halachic disagreement becomes the debate of the day, as everyone weighs in on the question: Oto haJump or yoter pri? The video has several million views across several platforms, extremely rare for something that is “just” an ad. Remarkably, Bardak achieves this kind of success with every video ad. 

In honor of Purim, I spoke to Meni and Efi, first individually and then together, about their personal life stories as well as Bardak’s journey. While I laughed throughout the conversation with the two of them, most of it was real talk and offered a new perspective on these two men who make others laugh for a living. Bardak fans will be surprised to learn that Efi is by nature more shy and reserved. In fact, during our three-way conversation, he barely spoke for at least the first 30 minutes. 

All in all, there is more to Bardak than just two funny guys. There is depth, struggle, tragedy, perseverance and a sincere goal to create quality kosher entertainment. L’Chayim! A freilichin Purim!



I was born and raised in Har Nof, Yerushalayim. I went to typical chareidi yeshivahs growing up: Maoz Chayil in Bayit Vegan for yeshivah ketanah and Knesses Hagedolah for yeshivah gedolah. I had the zechus of learning b’chavrusa with Rav Hillel Zaks once a week for the six or seven years that I was in yeshivah there. I also learned in Chaim Berlin for half a year for beis midrash. After that, I spoke perfect English. Now I’m not as fluent anymore, but I still understand it well. 

“My father, Reb Mordechai Wakshtock, has been in chinuch all his life. When I was growing up, he was a rebbi in yeshivah, later he became an administrator, and today he is a sought-out lecturer on parenting and chinuch. My mother is a sheitelmacher. I am the oldest of four. 

“I was not a leitzan growing up, but I always understood humor. Both my father and his grandparents have a real sense of humor, so I had where to get it from. My grandfather, Reb Shimon Chaim Wakshtock, wrote a book about his experience in the Holocaust, and in it he discusses how he used humor to get himself through the most difficult situations. My grandmother Rivka, who is still alive today, baruch Hashem, also has a great sense of humor, and she makes me laugh every time I visit her. 

“As a teenager, I was focused on my learning. My father didn’t want me working on the side. He told me, ‘There will be a time when you will work. For now, concentrate on your learning.’ 

“Having said that, I did a bit of video editing even as a teenager. Probably 95 percent of it was for my family. Here and there, I also did some editing for people outside the family, for pay. But even then, it was more for fun than because I was trying to make money.

“In my yeshivah ketanah, my rosh yeshivah preferred using pre-recorded music as opposed to a live keyboard player for the yeshivah’s mesibot (events). He bought a high-end sound system, and I was put in charge of it. I liked music, and I enjoyed making mixes of songs. Later, in yeshivah gedolah, I once saw a bachur editing some of the yeshivah’s promo videos, and I learned from him. Other than that, I was basically self-taught.

“I got married when I was 24, and then I learned in Kollel Nachlas Moshe for a few years. Over time, I did some video editing for people, and I also filmed some small events like bar mitzvahs and vorts. I made a few shekels here and there, but nothing serious. At one point, I began working part time and learning part time, and eventually I started my company Menimen and did video editing full time.

“I began making promotional videos for companies. They weren’t commercials as much as video descriptions of a company and its services. Another type of video that I did was the ‘dinner video.’ Today, we see five new matching campaigns every day, but back then, the only way that yeshivahs fundraised was through dinners. Of course, a yeshivah had to have a video for its dinner, and making it included interviewing the rosh yeshivah, filming the yeshivah, etc. I made many such videos. 

“I was fortunate that I also landed many Chabad Houses as clients, including Chabad of Thailand, Sri Lanka and many places in Europe. Another of my big clients was a kupat cholim, which was a really big deal. The video I made for them was unique at the time in terms of having such high-end production in the chareidi world. Menimen was really a one-man show. I was the videographer, soundman and editor. 

“I would come up with the video concept and envision the final product. Even today, when I produce a sketch for Bardak that involves more than 30 people, I have a vision for what everyone is supposed to do to ensure the final product. I believe strongly that for a video to be successful, there must be a director with a vision who can seamlessly weave together all the individuals and their roles in the project.

“I also started a small company called Kishkishkarya that produced video sketches for the chareidi tzibbur. I think it was a bit too far ahead of the times. Today, high-end sketches are more common, but back then it wasn’t really done. Even though I’d say the quality of what I produced at Kishkishkarya was ten percent of what Bardak is today, we still made solid stuff. For example, I made a funny promo video for Gimmel [the political party Yahadut HaTorah] during a heavy election campaign. 

“A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to hone my craft with professional training. I earned a bachelor’s in advertising from Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono and a masters in filmmaking at a religious film school in Yad Binyamin. For the last four years, I’ve been teaching filmmaking there. 

“I was introduced to Efi by a mutual friend of ours who ran a marketing company. I created some videos for this company, and our mutual friend asked Efi to act in some of them. He wasn’t well known back then, but his talent was obvious to me. I felt that there was a lot of potential as far as what we could do together. 

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