Exodus 31:15-17, New King James Version
After a 4 hour Megabus bus ride from D.C. to Philly (that was suppose to be three, but was extended owing to folks getting ahead of a fabulous 3-day weekend), I experienced my first bout of motion sickness and observed my first Shabbat. Theatre Ariel’s Artistic Director Deborah Baer Mozes invited me to join her; and I was excited and nervous about participating in this holy ritual. Excited, because it's something that I have wanted to do since I began researching Jewish life, culture, history and art for THE HAMPTON YEARS. Only Viktor and Margaret aren’t religious, so my research shifted a bit. Nervous, because I thought wouldn't be able to eat the food and that I would not only go hungry, but also insult my gracious hosts: Joel and Irene Glickman.
First and foremost, the experience was beautiful, moving and reminiscent of my churchgoing days as a child. From the lighting of the candles, the blessing given by Deborah, Irene and Miriam; the recitation of the Kiddush delivered by Joel, and the prayer over the bread and wine, I was reminded of how comforting, grounding and supportive that dutiful prayer, ritual and fellowship can be. Over the course of my 35 years and really until I was 22, I have been a member of/practiced/studied seven religions: Baptist, Buddism, Catholic, Church of Christ, Hindi, Methodist, and Mormon (alphabetic order). While I remain a spiritual person, theatre has replaced religion in my life. I cherish the ritual and fellowship of attending and creating theatre.
SIDE NOTE: I must confess that I’m overzealous and evangelical in my enthusiasm for it. Many the unsuspecting persons in line at Starbucks/Giant/Harris Teeter/Safeway/Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods, the innocent passenger on the metro or bus, or captive cabdriver has heard me speak on the magnificence of the D.C. Theatre community and the benefits of theater to education and society. I’ve even gone so far as to suggest the perfect date night, family outing, summer camp, acting class for the professional who wants to improve their communication skills or where to send your parents/in-laws while they’re in town. It’s a bit out of hand and I tell myself that I’m going to stop. But then I see something great, learn about a new company or read the description of a new program, and find that I just can’t help myself! END SIDE NOTE.
Now, as for the food, fortunately for me, Joel and Irene’s lovely daughter Miriam is a vegetarian. (She is also a wonderful flautist and piccolo player. Mind you, I realize this is not part of the Shabbat ritual, but when I learned she was a musician and heard her spoke so passionately about theatre, I couldn’t help but request a song. She played the most song for us!) For dinner, we had lentil balls, red lentils and wheat berry salad, broccolini (my new obsession), and a winter vegetable pie (with a pie crust to rival my mother’s!) followed by a rich and decadent chocolate cake. Oh my goodness, it was quite a feast and such a wonderful time to reflect and spend time together.
In my next few posts, I’m going to tell you about our rehearsal, the readings and post show discussions and my visit to the National Museum of American Jewish History’s Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow exhibit. This was such a special, important and enriching weekend. I am forever appreciative of Deborah Baer Mozes, who hosted me in her home, the smart, talented and brilliant cast of The Hampton Years, and to Theatre Ariel for their generous and encouraging support of The Hampton Years.