Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rebecca's Well at the Marks JCH in Bensonhurst
by Michael Bradley Cohen

On a bright, cold Sunday out in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn a little magic was happening early in the morning. Michael Bradley Cohen and Jessica Bay Blyweiss (with a little help from a very special StorahPuppet) brought to life the story of Rebecca's Well; a journey that brings Eliezer, Abraham's servant, to the outskirts of Nahor in search of a perfect match, a best friend for Abraham's one and only son, Isaac.

Through StorahSteps, child and adult participants alike get to illustrate and color the StorahSteps Torah! After drawing the many things we find in the desert, the Torah came on stage, and Eliezer dragged his ten camels of different colors through the desert of everyone's imagination to the well...the possibly magical wishing well. At the well, the children in the audience helped Eliezer figure out what makes a good friend so that he could more easily find the right best friend for Isaac. Rebecca finally arrived to let them know that all of their ideas of a good friend could be summed up in one Hebrew word, "Chesed," which means kindness. Together, audience and actors all found out what it meant to wish for what they want as well as to wish with "Chesed" for someone else.

The journery of wishing continued until Eliezer realized that all he was wishing for was right under his nose. Rebecca's chesed toward Eliezer and his ten camels of different colors was exactly what he was looking for. He had found the perfect match for Isaac. All the kids that spent this hour with StorahSteps showed great chesed by participating throughout the show with singing, dancing and watering of camels. They also opened their hearts to the idea of chesed and becoming a good friend.

As an actor and a StorahSteps Maven, it is always the greatest reward to bring these shows to children. To see them participate, to engage with them playfully and meaningfully is always the greatest reward of being on stage. It was especially rewarding this last performance because of the unique community and context we were performing in. In a primarily Russian speaking community, we performers were curious what language barriers might impede the Storahtelling experience. However, we found that the more we played with them, the more the audience (kids and adults) joined with us bridging any language gaps. At one moment in the show when we introduce the Hedrew word "Chesed" for "kindness", we taught the audience the word and then reminded them that every language has a word for "kindness" because it is universal. I think that best sums up the universality of what we do with StorahSteps.

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