Jewish Immigrant Narratives Come To Life In YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE

Yearning to Breathe Free runs March 17-April 7 in person in Los Angeles plus two live on Zoom performances worldwide, and April 13-14 in the Bay Area.

By: Feb. 29, 2024
Jewish Immigrant Narratives Come To Life In YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE
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Yearning to Breathe Free will have its world premiere at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles at 12:00pm on Sunday, March 17. Afterward it travels to venues across Los Angeles and the Bay Area, as well as live on Zoom for a global audience. It is a production of The Braid, the go-to Jewish story company.

Weaving together true stories from Jewish immigrants across the globe — Ukraine, China, Iran, Chile, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel — this theatrical production, Yearning to Breathe Free, takes audiences deeper into the experience of leaving one's home for a new land. Rooted by their Jewish tradition, the authors of these stories find a resilience to face an uncertain future. Their words have much to teach us.

Ronda Spinak, The Braid's artistic director and literary curator of the production, reflects, “This show couldn't have come at a better time. Antisemites often portray Jews as a monolith, but these stories demonstrate we are a global people. We have different customs, rituals, and foods, but we're still one community with one Jewish spirit. And in a time when so many people feel depressed and anxious about the future of America, it's inspiring to hear from voices who still boldly believe in the American Dream.

For sixteen years, The Braid has crafted a unique artform at the intersection of storytelling and theatre known as Salon Theatre, in which professional actors bring to life a curated collection of true stories.

These stories offer a sumptuous feast of language from skilled writers. Acclaimed memoirist and novelist André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name) reveals the ironic pain of celebrating a seder while he and his family are being forced out of their home in Egypt. In a hilarious tale, two Chilean parents struggle to learn strange new Jewish customs when their daughter marries an Orthodox American man. An adoptee from China discovers surprising inspiration in a nearby bridge that connects her own story with that of her Jewish grandparents from the Balkans. And a Ukrainian-American poet meditates on the comfort of Jewish tradition as echoes of her family home still reverberate in her soul. Plus nine other funny and poignant stories and songs that share deep yearnings and bold dreams. 

Writer Haideh Herbert-Aynechi reflects what it means to have her story performed: “Living in Iran as a Jew and as a woman, I had to be silent. Now I have a voice,” she shares. “I love working with The Braid.”

Other writers include Farnoush Amiri, journalist for the Associated Press and other outlets, Emiliana Guereca, founder and lead organizer of the Los Angeles Women's March, and memoirist Esther Amini (Concealed). The cast, as ethnically diverse as the writers, includes Kimberly Green, Heidi Mendez, Roxana Rastegar, and Marcelo Tubert. The production is directed by Susan Morgenstern. It is presented in promotional partnership with HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), Jewtina y Co, an organization celebrating and elevating Jewish-Latino culture and identity, and The LUNAR Collective, a national organization of Asian American Jews.


Yearning to Breathe Free runs March 17- April 7 in person in Los Angeles plus two live on Zoom performances worldwide, and April 13-14 in the Bay Area. Tickets are available at


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