Monday, October 06, 2008

Live from Oregon: the NorthWest Storah Troupe Rosh Hashanna Report

By Rosana Berdichveski

Storah On The Road

This was our big break! After 5 years of occasional Storahtelling presentations, finally we were permitted to stage a Ritual Performance during Rosh Hashana! We performed at the slightly less formal "downstairs" service, with about 400 people in attendance. At last we had the support of our new young Rabbi, who also helped us fine-tune the script and staging. Still, you never really know how people will react to something new and different, especially when your Rosh Hashana Torah Service suddenly features a 12-year-old boy wearing a Kafiyah!

Well, the response was great!! Our Ritual Performance was called "WILL POWER," and it focused on Abraham's conflict at Sarah's demand that he cast out Hagar and I! shmael. We used the device of Abraham meeting with an attorney to draft his Will. The lawyer, named Levy, was played by a congregant who is actually a family lawyer named Levy!

From the moment Esther opened with the song "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind", to Gershon and Rosana (as Abraham and Sarah) consulting with the Family Lawyer, to Ricardo's stunning off-stage voice of God's Angel, to the appearance of young Ishmael, the congregation was intrigued and amused. They laughed at some of the lines, but they really "got it."

Some of the Aliyot were performed Pasuk-Pasuk, and some weren't. It was "interesting" trying to coordinate the script with all of the Torah readers. Not everything went perfectly, but the Targum was heard, and appreciated. We took turns being the M'turgeman.

Perhaps the most rewarding moment was when Ishmael concluded with "What if I had been able to stay with my father and brother?". The wh! ole roo m, about 400 people, uttered an audible "Ooooooooo....." It was a Gotcha moment!

After the service, and during the days since, so many people have told us they loved it. This is so gratifying. Many said that we should "do this more often." Rabbi Greenstein's comment was Wow! You guys were so professional! Rabbi Emeritus Stampfer said, tongue-in-cheek, "Only twice in the last 50 years have I clearly heard the Voice of God. Once was in a play where another person's voice was also heard, but today.... today was even more powerful. To hear God's voice on Rosh Hashanah? That is Divine."

Amichai has often said that it's good to go Mainstream, and I think we really did it this time. We are so grateful to Amichai and the whole Storahtelling crew for the help and support, and for the friendship and inspiration.

Shana Tova to everyone,

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