Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Apple a Day
Kesher Israel with Mavens Daliya Karnofsky and Shawn Shafner

During the first weekend in October, Shawn Shafner and I went to West Chester, Pennsylvania to perform Parshat Bereishit: An Apple A Day. We played Adam and the Serpent and investigated that crucial moment when Eve bites the apple and Adam goes with her. Kesher Israel was a fascinating place to have this discussion. As someone from a small Midwestern town with an almost non-existent Jewish population, I wasn't expecting the impassioned, active, articulate congregation we found in this obscure location. Their Jewish community was small, but thriving. All of the congregation joined us for our Maven, and all seemed to enjoy it. There were two rows in the sanctuary reserved for the Junior Congregation, and I was a expecting two rows of bored, irritated, apathetic teens. This was not the case at all. First of all, the Junior Congregation was much younger than anticipated. This made me extremely nervous. I wasn't sure our Maven was appropriate, not just content-wise but idea-wise. What would happen when we tried to have a discussion about Good vs. Evil, and just who was responsible for this crucial moment in our history? Would we be able to capture and keep their attention? I'd say the age range was from six years old up to twelve. Add to that a handful of teenagers and a lot of discussion-hungry adults, and we had quite the audience to please.

Fortunately, everything went swimmingly. Everyone was captivated immediately. I credit us, the performers, somewhat, but also just the genuine thirst for knowledge so felt in this community. Six year olds and adults participated alike in our discussion, and all provided thoughtful, insightful comments. Afterwards, the teens were saying how much they wished Storahtelling could come every week, and the adults were wondering how they could learn to do it for themselves. This is exactly the response we hope for at Storahtelling, as educators and performers. It's the old "teach a man to fish" adage, and it feels so good when that is exactly the effect we have. Sure, the teens would just love a "less boring" service every week and so they love the idea of bringing in real live New York actors for their entertainment, but this community was left wanting more than just that. Across the board, they wanted to do it for themselves. So captivated were they, not just with what they had learned but how they had witnessed while we learned with them in the performing and discussing of it. There is no higher form of flattery than imitation. And we could all learn something from imitatiing the Kesher Israel population as well.

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