Performance, Party And Patriotism Take Center Stage At Jewish Women's Theatre's Fall Party

Performance, Party And Patriotism Take Center Stage At Jewish Women's Theatre's Fall Party

Ever since the first Jewish immigrant arrived in America in 1584 with Sir Walter Raleigh, Jewish Americans have made significant contributions to our country. Their impact is immeasurable and many of their names are household words. Yet, countless other Jews, unknown to the history books, are unsung heroes. The stories of their courage, sacrifice and devotion to our country are not often told. Jewish Women's Theatre (JWT) is telling them now in a new show entitled Jews in America that will premiere at its Fall Party in Brentwood on October 28.

"Jewish Women's Theatre, now beginning its 11th year, is proud to invite members of the community to join us in celebrating America, a country that has welcomed us, protected us, and allowed us to thrive for over four centuries. This year, as we begin to sell subscriptions to our all brand new season, we will also provide a sneak preview of Jews in America, an original show that will entertain and maybe even educate our audience," says Ronda Spinak, JWT's artistic director.

The Fall Party and debut performance of Jews in America will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a sumptuous dessert buffet, followed by the new show at 2:30. General admission tickets are $40 with VIP reserved seating at $75. For more information, visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

Jews in America begins with an exchange of letters between George Washington and Moses Seixas, a member of the Newport Hebrew Congregation in Rhode Island, where Washington had recently visited. Seixas expressed his gratitude for a country "which to bigotry gives no sanction," and Washington responds by applauding America for having given mankind "policies worthy of imitation" while he hopes that each of the "children of Abraham will...sit safely under his own vine and fig tree (where) there should be none to make him afraid."

It continues with stories about the heroism of Phoebe Pember, a Jewish hospital administrator in the Civil War and Lt. Frances Slanger, one of four nurses who died after wading ashore at Normandy during the Allied invasion of France. It includes a letter from a mother to her son upon his departure for America in 1880. In it, she tells him "not to forget our beloved religion ... whether it be your fate to be rich or poor." Her son didn't forget and went on to establish a successful business in Cincinnati, where he made countless contributions to its Jewish community.

Jews were also active and supportive of efforts to give women the vote. In 1919, Rabbi Joseph Krausdopf wrote a letter to his fellow rabbis encouraging them to support the enfranchisement of women. Stating, "Having the same responsibilities as men, she wants the same rights, same pay and freedom to do what her abilities and inclinations prompt her to do...a thousand wrongs she will help to right."

Magazine and screenwriter Susan Baskin, who wrote "I Citizen," one of the featured stories in Jews in America, beautifully summarizes one of the shows themes. "In these troubling times, I have realized how fragile democracy is and how it is my responsibility to protect it," she said. "My piece is about taking the mantle of citizenship and my growing awareness of the actions it requires."

Other stories tell how a father instructed his daughter in how to be Jewish and describe a Catholic father's eventual acceptance of his daughter's adoption of Orthodox Judaism when he learned to do the hora.

Subscriptions to JWT's new salon shows will also be available at the Fall Party. This year's all new shows will be: Family Secrets, which reveals secrets about youthful indiscretions and sometimes naughty activities in an eye-opening, funny show; It's a Life, which celebrates life while looking at the ironic, mystifying, and possibly humorous events surrounding death; and True Colors, which explores identity, community and inspiration from today's Jews of color.

The Fall Party and debut performance of Jews in America will take place in Brentwood on Sunday, October 28, beginning at 1:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $40, with VIP reserved seating at $75. For more information, visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

JWT's The Braid, voted one of the "Best Live Theatres on the Westside" two years in a row by The Argonaut, stages original dramatic performances, contemporary art exhibits, classes, and other events showcasing the diverse community of writers, artists and creators who celebrate Jewish life, one story at a time. The Braid is located at 2912 Colorado Ave., #102, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Now in its 11th year, learn more about JWT at www.jewishwomenstheatre.org. or call (310) 315-1400.

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