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John L. Rosove

Daughter of the Wicked – Shanit Keter Schwartz

A long-time friend and congregant and I shared lunch this week, and as we caught up on each of our lives and families, I asked, “So how is Shanit (his wife) spending her time these days.”

Sam Schwartz proudly told me of Shanit’s one-woman show that was staged in Los Angeles last year and off-Broadway in New York earlier this year.

A long-time New York trained actress originally from Israel’s Yemenite community, Shanit Keter Schwartz is a force of nature, an expressive, brilliant, and beautiful woman whose story merges east and west, old world and new, superstition and modernity, modern Israel and ancient Yemen.

Growing up in Israel in the early 1950s in the Maabarot, tent communities filled by poverty-stricken Jewish immigrants from the Arab world following the establishment of the State of Israel, her family of five children was afflicted with the horrendous scandal of the missing Yemenite children. Two of her siblings were twins, but only the boy was brought home from the hospital. Her father, a mystic rabbinic sage from Yemen, was told that the little baby girl was sick and had to remain in the hospital. When he went to retrieve her a few days later, he was told that she died. Not so. There was death certificate, no body, and no funeral. The little girl had been torn away from her family and adopted and raised by an Ashkenazi family. Shanit searched high and low for her sister Sarah years later, to no avail – so far. She tells the audience that if there is a woman who looks like her in the foyer, it may be her long-lost sister.

Shanit’s show is wonderful – enriched – and dramatic. The stage includes 3 panels showing photographs and film behind her as she tells her story from the early years of Israeli statehood and about the Israel that she loves. Shanit dances to Yemenite music and chants blessings.

The show is organized around Shanit’s life, but also upon key Jewish and Kabbalistic principles and values. She reflects at length about her love for her father and for her powerful superstition-driven mother who called her “Bat Rasha – Daughter of the Wicked.” Shanit tells of her liberation from the old world life in which she was raised into a new life that she found and created for herself in America as an actress. She describes meeting Sam and their love at first sight.

Shanit’s life is multi-layered and she confesses that she is living a life she never dreamed possible.

The show was positively reviewed by New York theater critic Edward A. Kliszus in April of this year – https://openingnight.online/daughter-of-the-wicked/

You can watch the entirety of the show here (1 hour 20 minutes). I recommend it highly –

Daughter of the Wicked – Odyssey Production Full Video Link: https://vimeo.com/706295209

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and a past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of 3 books - "From the West to the East - A Memoir of a Liberal American Rabbi" (2024), "Why Israel Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to the Next Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Revised edition 2023), and “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (2017). All are available at Amazon.com. John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren and he lives in Los Angeles.
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