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Bat Mitzvah Zoom Celebration Featuring New Salon Show To Kick Off Jewish Women's Theatre's 13th Season

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 It will take place via Zoom on Sunday, October 18, at 11 am PDT, 2 pm EDT. 

Bat Mitzvah Zoom Celebration Featuring New Salon Show To Kick Off Jewish Women's Theatre's 13th Season

When a Jewish girl turns 13, her community joins together at a bat mitzvah to celebrate her coming of age. When Jewish Women's Theatre/The Braid (JWT) turns 13, its community will also gather to celebrate its coming of age and transformation from a small local theatre into a national voice for contemporary Jewish culture.

JWT's bat mitzvah will feature a brand-new salon performance titled I Am a Jew, along with a blessing from Rabbi Zoe Klein, plus music, montages, and more. It will take place via Zoom on Sunday, October 18, at 11 am PDT, 2 pm EDT.

"I will never forget how two friends and I gathered around my kitchen table in 2008 to discuss the radical idea of creating a theatre to showcase the ideas, themes, and stories of contemporary Jewish women," recalls Ronda Spinak, JWT's founding artistic director. "We had no space and no money but were fueled by a bold and worthy mission. We wanted to give voice to today's creative, talented, and just plain incredible Jewish women, who are often under- or misrepresented by media stereotypes. So we pioneered a new art form at the intersection of theatre and storytelling to do just that."

Over the past 13 years, JWT expanded to showcase all the diversity within Jewish culture and our community, inspiring Jewish stories that connect us all. JWT has created 60 original shows and presented 675 diverse stories to more than 105,000 delighted patrons. In partnership with more than 100 interdenominational organizations, it has showcased 345 writers, aged 13 to 98, and graduated 33 emerging artists who participated in a fellowship program designed to foster the next generation of Jewish theatre and arts professionals. JWT also co-produced Monica Piper's extraordinary show Not That Jewish, which played off-Broadway for 200-plus performances.

JWT's programming recently became available on ChaiFlicks, the "Jewish Netflix," so viewers across the globe can enjoy its unique stories in their living rooms. JWT also performs in communities across America and recently toured the American South, bringing Jewish culture to cities that lack opportunities to experience Jewish theater.

Tickets to the bat mitzvah celebration are just $36 and can be purchased at www.jewishwomenstheatre.org

The highlight of the bat mitzvah celebration will be the debut of I Am a Jew, a new salon show that celebrates the diversity, dreams, and dilemmas of today's Jewish community. JWT's first presentation 13 years ago was a salon at a backyard in Pacific Palisades, so it is only fitting that its signature salon style of theatre be included in the festivities.

Esteemed writers include Rob Eshman, National Editor of The Forward, America's oldest and largest Jewish media company; Monica Piper, an Emmy Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated comedy writer and stand-up comic; Shekhiynah Larks, the program coordinator and a diversity trainer at Be'chol Lashon, a well-established Jews of Color advocacy organization; Rabbi Deborah Silver, the first woman rabbi at Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation in New Orleans; David Chiu, screenwriter; and Joshua Silverstein, an award-winning actor, comic, writer, beatboxer, and educator.

Zoom viewers at the bat mitzvah will meet an African-American Jew who wonders whether her hair extensions must be removed before she is allowed in the mikvah, even after she has completed six years of study to prepare her for conversion. A rabbi will tell the story of her difficulty offering spiritual guidance to a congregation who desperately needs it during the coronavirus crisis, as she wishes that rabbinical school had included a Pandemic Class.

The recent recurrence of anti-Semitism is a theme in three unforgettable stories. One tells how a hotel guest, relaxing in a hot tub, meets an ex-convict who sports a swastika tattoo covering his entire chest. When the man offers to raise money to get it removed, he gets a shocking response. And an African-American Jew realizes that the prejudice he has experienced during his life hasn't been from white supremacists, but from other Jews who felt he did not belong in "their box."

And of course, there is humor, for what would a JWT salon be without it? I Am a Jew includes stories of religious "conversion" stemming from Costco whitefish salad and other Jewish delicacies.

As part of the bat mitzvah celebration, JWT will also honor those who have been especially instrumental in helping JWT grow and thrive.

"I am so excited to invite everyone in our community to join us on this special day," says Lynne Himelstein, JWT's board co-chair and bat mitzvah co-host. "Those of us who have believed in and supported JWT since its infancy are so proud of the real force it has become in the theater world, the art world, and in places around the world where Jewish stories are now told as never before."

Gail Israel, bat mitzvah co-host, adds, "This event promises to be a very special one. There will be something for everyone - memories, laughter, and maybe some sentimental tears of joy. Looking back to see how JWT has grown is really exciting, but it's even more exciting to look forward to new stories, new ideas, and a whole new generation of Jewish theater professionals being nurtured by JWT."

Jewish Women's Theatre, recently voted Santa Monica's "Most Loved" performance venue by the Santa Monica Daily Press and voted one of the "Best Live Theatres on the Westside" three years in a row by The Argonaut, presents American Jewish stories, art, and other programming that highlights Jewish contributions to contemporary life. Now in its 13th (bat mitzvah) season, JWT's salon theatre of original dramatic shows, each written to a specific theme, displays the diverse and eclectic community of writers, artists, and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time. Learn more about JWT at: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

For virtual tickets to the October 18th bat mitzvah celebration, visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org



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