Let’s face it: as much as we do our thing and live our lives, things in Israel are not normal right now. Waking up each morning wondering where the next attack might occur, hyper-alert for anything that might be amiss, wary of every siren. Everyone reacts differently to terror; but the ladies of the Raise Your Spirits Theater in Gush Etzion react quite uniquely: they perform.
Founded in 2001, it was literally set up to raise the spirits of the people of Israel in the wake of the Second Intifada. Performances are done in memory of victims of terror and Israeli soldiers who fell in the line of duty, and in honor of their families who they host as guests. And of course the performances are for local women and girls, and women throughout Israel who come to see the shows.
But they do more than just raise spirits. The all-female cast performs to all-women audiences in accordance with Jewish religious law affording many talented Orthodox women the opportunity to sing and dance without violating any of the Jewish modesty strictures. Further, most of their shows, which focus on biblical stories and often on female role models therein, are completely original. The script, the score, everything. Finally, the huge cast consists entirely of volunteers.
After tackling such biblical heavyweights as Esther, Ruth and Devorah, the team of the Raise Your Spirits Theater tackled lesser known heroines. The five daughters of Tzelofchad, courageous sisters with a deep love of the land of Israel, literally influence a divine law through their determination and commitment. It’s one thing to tell a story. Another to develop a detailed musical performance complete with an entirely original musical score, with dozens of performers and cast members. Yet this is exactly what they did.
Led by writer/director Toby Klein Greenwald, and with the show’s music composed by Mitch Clyman, along with numerous other creative, dedicated talents, they pulled Sisters! The Daughters of Tzelofchad together,which opened in Gush Etzion on Sunday, January 31st with a number of special guests in the audience. As Tzelofchad was of the tribe of Menashe, Greenwald got in touch with Shavei Israel via this writer to arrange for women and girls of Bnei Menashe to come to opening night and see their biblical counterparts on the stage.
The idea was well-received and not only did the Bnei Menashe appreciate being there, but it was incredibly meaningful for the rest of the audience as well. And utterly delightful to see the inspiring story of the daughters of Tzelofchad come to life.
Raise the spirits of the people of Gush Etzion — and give them the chance to raise yours. For tickets go here.