Culture, Israel

For the discussions we didn't have: An Olive on the Seder Plate this weekend in NY

crossposted to JVoices
In returning to our regular routine post-Yom Kippur, I know I am emotionally and spiritually inspired by the holidays, and feeling the impact of the work a bit on my body.
I also feel the presence of the many conversations and discussions I didn’t have.
Many (and I do think this is the majority of people these days) know how hard it is for most synagogue leaders to discuss Israel and Palestine with congregants where it is not only an unconditional support for Israel. I know for myself, even at shuls where I am used to hearing the Rabbis talk about human rights for Israelis and Palestinians, these past few days the only refrain and atonement I heard from the bima was of not doing enough to support Israel.
So I am grateful that post Yom Kippur, those of us in New York are offered another opportunity–an extension if you will–to look at the Israeli occupation with other Jews and to stretch ourselves once again for the silences that we have maintained and for the many times we have looked away from the occupation.
The play, An Olive on the Seder Plate, is a multimedia performance about how American Jews wrestle with the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
I have seen the play before when it was originally produced around the time of the Passover. Indeed that is where the name of the play comes from, as many Jews now include an olive on their seder plate as a symbol for the ongoing occupation of Palestine, or more specifically for some, for the olive groves that have been destroyed during the occupation.
What I really love about this play is that is written by and for Jews, and it is written to reach Jewish audiences using art, humor, song and humility to talk about a difficult subject with audiences that often do not know how to begin having these discussions.
This play has traveled throughout the country, visiting numerous communities and synagogues and hebrew schools to not only put on a great show, but to also have in-depth, heartfelt discussions afterwards with audience members and to try to move dialogue in places and in hearts where the issue has sat stifled, stagnated or silenced.
In a review of the play, director Deb Shoval said that: the words spoken on stage during her latest creation aren’t as important as the dialogue she hopes to spark once the curtain falls. “I needed to speak directly to my own community, the Jewish community,” Shoval says. “The play is a tool to create dialogue and to get people thinking about the issues.”
Indeed, I will be there this weekend with my family members, some of whom I have barely been able to have conversations with because it is such a loaded conversation. I look forward to this opportunity, for the discussions I didn’t have, for the many discussions I imagine many of us didn’t have during the High Holidays. I hope many of you will join me this weekend and that you will also bring at least one other person who you wish you had talked to about Israel and Palestine.
An Olive on the Seder Plate: High Holiday Edition 5767
* Friday, Oct 6, 8pm
* Saturday, Oct 7, 8pm
* Sunday, Oct 8, 2pm & 7pm
at the Times Square Arts Center located at 300 W 43rd St.
Below is some of their promotional material. Visit the website to view a trailer and to buy tickets. Undoubtedly, it’s worth it.

This revised and expanded High Holiday Edition responds to present-day issues of the meaning of security, as well as Israel’s relations with neighbors.
An Olive on the Seder Plate is a collaboration between over a dozen Jewish musicians, performers, and artists. The play doesn’t end when the cast takes their final bows, but continues with an optional post-performance dialogue.
An Olive on the Seder Plate presents history, humor, politics and Midrash through a collection of Jewish voices. The production aims to speak to a wide spectrum of audience members, and addresses the realities of anti-Semitism.
An Olive on the Seder Plate is a creative, innovative contribution to ongoing peace and justice work within Jewish communities and beyond. Please join us for a show after this year’s Days of Awe.

3 thoughts on “For the discussions we didn't have: An Olive on the Seder Plate this weekend in NY

  1. I saw this in Philadelphia – and I was blown away. While the promoters seem to emphasize how educational this is for Jewish audiences, I came away feeling that pro-Palestinians should take a gander as well. It models how one can approach a difficult issue with sensitivity. The adolescent extremists who think that anti-semitism is only a zionist catchphrase would do well to hone thier arguments with this production….

  2. Hi Alan–unfortunately we all know space in NY is expensive, so there are a limited number of shows. If you support the work, you can help by donating to help make the run of the shows longer in the future.

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