IN A STRANGER'S GRAVE
by MIRIAM METZINGER

SYNOPSIS               SCHOLARS                CAST & CREW                REVIEWS & MEDIA 

 

In a Stranger's Grave is a timely drama about Esther, a young Israeli woman plunged into crisis when she learns about the death of her mother and the local Burial Society's shocking decision and revelation as to how they will bury her. When Esther and her sister Chana make different decisions about how to dignify their mother and, by extension, themselves, Esther is left to battle alone. Whether she is courageously stalwart or merely crazy is in the eye of the beholder.

Miriam Metzinger's play is a vital, nuanced addition to the current Israeli debate on conversion as it applies to the future of Judaism and that of the State of Israel. 

SYNOPSIS

 

SCHOLARS

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A prominent lecturer and author, Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo is world renowned for his highly original insights into Judaism and his ability to communicate the relevance of Jewish values and practice in today’s complicated world. A native of the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community of Holland who holds a doctorate in philosophy, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo received rabbinic ordination from the Gateshead Talmudic College and studied in Israel at the Institute for Higher Rabbinical Studies of Chief Rabbi Unterman and at the Mir Yeshiva. In addition to teaching Jewish audiences, Rabbi Lopes Cardozo often lectures to non-Jewish groups, including Christian leaders, about comparative religion and the fundamentals of Judaism. His many books and articles have been translated into several languages.

Dean, David Cardozo Academy

R' Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo - June 4

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Rabbi Chuck Davidson is one of the founders of Giyur K'Halacha, a network of Orthodox conversion courts that are working independently of the Chief Rabbinate. He is also the founder of Ahavat HaGer, an umbrella group of Orthodox rabbis worldwide who wish to conduct conversions independently of centralized rabbinic organizations, and have agreed to accept any conversion that meets the minimum standard under the Halacha. Rabbi Davidson is an expert on the laws of conversion and is active in training rabbis in this field, setting out principles to assist other courts. While his adversarial style has alienated him from some authorities, Rabbi Davidson believes that a forceful approach is needed to break the monopoly of the Chief Rabbis. He also is currently serving as head of Chuppot, the wedding division of Hashgacha Pratit, a Jerusalem organization which challenges the monopoly of the Rabbinate in marriage ceremonies and laws.

Founder, Ahavat HaGer and Giyur K'Halacha

R' Chuck Davidson  

May 21/June 11/Oct.17, 13:00

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Dr. Netanel Fisher is acknowledged to be the academic expert on Jewish conversion in, and the Jewish character of, the State of Israel. Following his doctoral research on Israel's policy on conversion to Judaism, Dr. Fisher has gone on to lead important research and publish numerous articles and book chapters on these issues. Two of his recent papers were researched under the aegis of the Israel Democracy Institute: The Conversion Challenge in Israel – Analysis and Recommendations and Conversion in Israel, Jerusalem. Dr. Fisher's latest paper is titled The Chief Rabbinate’s Conversion-To-Judaism Policy 1948–2018. He is a senior lecturer in political science at the Shaarei Mishpat Academic Center for Law and Science. Dr. Fisher's papers and research findings can be read at https://mishpat.academia.edu/NetanelFisher

Author of A Jewish State? Controversial Conversions and the Dispute over Israel's Jewish Character

Dr. Netanel Fisher - Oct.17, 19:00

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Rabbi David Golinkin is the president of the Schechter Institutes, Inc. where he also serves as a Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law. He is the author of many halachic responsa, including one on the topic of this play. Read it here.

Rabbi David has been a regular player in Jerusalem's English speaking theater productions in recent years. Selected credits include the Ramban in Theater and Theology's Divine Right and leading roles in The Accomplices, The Chosen, The Maccabee Queen, Man From Earth, Oliver, Pride and Prejudice, Pygmalion, The Statement, and The God of Isaac.

President, Schechter Institutes

R' Prof. David Golinkin - Sept. 2

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Rabbanit Anne Gordon is a co-founder and the educational director of Chochmat Nashim, an NGO dedicated to combatting the health, financial, and emotional damage caused by extremism and the erasing of women in Orthodox Jewish society. She is also the deputy editor of Ops & Blogs at The Times of Israel. A native of Boston, she has enjoyed an intense and varied career in Jewish education, teaching high school through post-graduate Judaic Studies. Rabbanit Gordon holds a BA in History and Philosophy and an MA in Judaic Studies from Harvard University. She studied in the women’s batei midrash of Jerusalem and New York for nearly a decade, and is pursuing a distressingly slow doctorate in Jewish Education.

Founder, Chochmat Nashim

R' Anne Gordon - June 13

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In addition to his semicha, Rabbi Krug holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and speech/drama, masters degrees in psychology and Jewish education, a doctorate in clinical psychology, a post-doctorate fellowship degree from Bar Ilan University, and is licensed and in private practice as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Krug wrote his post-doctoral thesis on “The Use Of Drama And Theatrical Technique in Informal Jewish Education,” an often-cited work.

Rabbi Krug was the assistant producer of the world’s longest-running musical, The Fantasticks, from 1974 until its closing in January 2002. He served, for ten additional years, as the Production Consultant/Assistant Director for The Fantasticks' revival, until its closing in June 2017. In addition to more than 250 production credits in the past 49 years, as Director, Production Consultant, Set Designer or Lighting Designer, he has directed an award-winning show for NBC and consulted for multiple Broadway productions and national touring companies.

Lecturer in Torah and psychology

R' Dr. Johnny Krug - Sept. 3

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Miriam Metzinger is a playwright, actress, and singer based in Jerusalem. She studied acting and playwrighting at HB Studio New York, and Classical Languages and Literature at Oxford University. Her first play, Lapse, was produced at Franklin College and Oxford University and was awarded a High Commendation rating at the Oxford Cuppers Theater Festival. Her second play, Low Ceiling, was produced at the Burton Taylor Theater in Oxford, U.K. and at Kenyon College. The Women of Lemonfield was given a staged reading at H.B. Studio New York. She also writes fiction; The Invisible Chassidishe Maidel was published in the Kenyon Review in 2014. Metzinger has also written a book of essays, Halfway Down the Stairs, and The Law in Indiana, a biographical novella. She was awarded the John Crowe Ransom Award for Poetry at Kenyon College. Metzinger's latest play, In a Stranger's Grave, sold out every performance of its recent run at Jerusalem's Khan Theater.

Playwright, In a Stranger's Grave

Miriam Metzinger - May 22/June 12/Dec. 4

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Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID - The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is an editor of the journal Tradition, series editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. Rabbi Saks is a frequent speaker at the Khan where he examines the complexities of reality without marring the magic of art. 

Founding Director of ATID

R' Jeffrey Saks - June 5

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Rabbanit Shani Taragin advocates for a more accurate and nuanced portrayal of religious conservatism than the one we frequently see in the arts. Rabbanit Taragin completed a B.A. and M.A. in Tanach and Talmud at Bar-Ilan University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Tanach while serving as Ram for Tanach in Midreshet Lindenbaum. Rabbanit Taragin also teaches collegiates and adults at MaTaN, Migdal Oz, Sha'alvim for Women, Lander's College, and the Womens' Beit Midrash in Efrat and Ramat Shilo. She is a graduate of Nishmat’s Keren Ariel Program for certification as a halachic advisor in issues of taharat hamishpacha. Rabbanit Taragin lectures and leads Tanach tours throughout Israel and serves on the local religious council dealing with issues of Jewish law and education. 

Ra"m at Midreshet Lindenbaum and Midreshet TVA

R' Shani Taragin - June 12

 

CAST

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Mordechai has held leading acting and singing roles in many Jerusalem productions in the last few years. Selected credits include lead roles in Free to Be You and Me, Ordinary Days, and The Man From Earth, and the title roles in The Sorcerer and Ruddigore

Mordechai Buxner

Dovid

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Sandy Cash is a performing songwriter who, after making Aliya, sang professionally in the chorus of the Israeli Opera and at the Cameri Theater

(Les Miserables). Sandy’s community theater roles include Anna in The King And I, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Diana in Next to Normal, the Mother Superior in The Sound of Music, Katisha in The Mikado, Berthe in Pippin, The Stage Manager in Our Town, and Prospera in The Tempest

Sandy Cash

Dena

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C.B. recently played the title role in Ben Bard Player’s production of The God of Isaac. Other credits include Prince Christopher in Cinderella, Gershon in Theater and Theology's Divine Right, Stephan/Devscery in Hanna Senesh, Sid Phillips in Singing in the Rain, Kevin/Jason Greene in The Producers, Hanschen in Spring Awakening, Henry in Next To Normal, Hans Schmidt in Remember My Name and others with various companies within the community. C.B. studied acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Terry Schreiber Studios, and Michael Howard Studios in New York City. He is the co-producer of the original concept album recording of the new musical Song of Solomon (www.solomonthemusical.com) and he is currently working on bringing a production of Song of Solomon to the Jerusalem stage.

C.B. is the founder of Jerusalem's  JET Community. See all that is going on in Jerusalem's English theater scene at jetcommunity.org. 

C.B. always credits Dena Davies for being the best wife and for exploring life and the stage with him. 

Charles B. Davies

Amos

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Bakol has been performing for more than 50 years and is well known on the Jerusalem stage. Favorite roles include Mother Regina in Theater and Theology's Off the Derech Dolorosa, Ruth Steiner in Collected Stories, the goat in Fable of the Goat and, in the wonderful You Can’t Take It With You, Mrs. Kirby, twice. Other roles include Mme Barbiere in Remember My Name, Mme Armsfeldt in A Little Night Music, Tzwara in Chaim's Lovesong, the Señora in Andorraand Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond. Bakol is a co-founder of the Jewish theatre of Bloomington, Indiana.  

Bakol Ruben Gellar

Rebbetzin Friedman

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Rabbi David has been a regular player in Jerusalem's English speaking theater productions in recent years. Selected credits include the Ramban in Theater and Theology's Divine Right and leading roles in The Accomplices, The Chosen, The Maccabee Queen, Man From Earth, Oliver, Pride and Prejudice, Pygmalion, The Statement, and The God of Isaac.

In real life, Rabbi David Golinkin is the President of The Schechter Institutes, Inc. where he also serves as a Professor of Talmud and Jewish Law. He is the author of many halachic responsa, including one on the topic of this play. Read it here.

R' David Golinkin

Rabbi Aaron

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Devorah has trained for most of her life as a dancer and singer. She later went on to train in acting at the Aspaklaria School of Performing Arts, where she studied for two years. In 2017, Devorah directed Hannah Senesh with J-Town Playhouse. Previous roles include Mary in Theater and Theology's Off the Derech Dolorosa, Mary in From Door to Door, Inga Johanson in Number the Stars and support roles in Raise Your Spirits productions of Noah! Ride the Wave, Ruth and Naomi in the Fields of Bethlehem and In Search of Courage

Devorah Leah Jaffe

Chana

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Avital is the co-founder of The Women's Performance Community of Jerusalem. She has appeared for the last decade in leading roles with various theater companies, including Raise Your Spirits Theatre, WIT Modiin, J-Town Playhouse, Theater and Theology, and The Women's Performance Community. Avital has co-written and co-composed two musicals that were produced in the last three years -- Count the Stars and Hidden: The Secret Jews of Spain. By day Avital works as a Hebrew editor for the Ministry of Education.

Avital Macales

Esther

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Howard trained at Circle in the Square Theatre School in NY and has been acting for decades in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Recent credits include Joe in Theater and Theology's Off the Derech Dolorosa, and Pablo in Theater and Theology’s Divine Right. Howard also recently appeared in Assassins, Avenue Q, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Howard Metz

Rabbi Schmidt

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Aharon is a seasoned screen actor, including appearances in Israeli TV productions Srugim and Underdos. His theater appearances include Thomas in Theater and Theology's Divine Right, various leading roles in the Efrat Community Theater's musicals (in Hebrew), as well as roles in The Statement and Second Labor. In addition, Aharon volunteers as Roni Baloni the medical clown. Aharon works as an applied mathematician and computer scientist at Machon Lev, and lives in Efrat with his wife, Tova. They are proud parents of five, and grandparents of five. 

Aharon Naiman

the Officer

CREW

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Shira Chana Bienstock is a singer, actress, and photographer whose interest in costuming goes back to an amazing collection of hand-made period-piece dresses for her Barbies that were a highlight of childhood playtime. Shira Chana played a lead role in costuming, as well as performing, for the Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem’s production of Hidden (1700’s Spanish fashion for a cast of 65 women/girls) in 2018, and contributed to costuming in WPC’s production of “Count The Stars” in 2016. 

ShiraChana Bienstock

Costume Design

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Liora Elkoby is studying Torah and the Arts at Midreshet Emunah V'omanut in Jerusalem this year. Her past experience with theater includes appearances in My Favorite Shorts, Oliver Twist, Mulan, and Hello Dolly. Liora is currently broadening her horizons by learning the technical aspects of light and sound for this production.

Liora Elkoby

Sound Operation

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Karen Feldman is an artist well-known in the Jerusalem English-speaking theater community for her stunning theater makeup and her creative photography. Her artistic eye is in demand by all the JET companies. 

Karen Feldman

Photography and Videography

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Rabbi Dr. John Krug was The Assistant Producer of the world’s longest running musical, The Fantasticks, from 1974 until its closing in January 2002. He served, for ten additional years, as the Production Consultant/Assistant Director for The Fantasticks' revival, until its closing in June 2017. In addition to more than 250 production credits in the past 49 years, as Director, Production Consultant, Set Designer or Lighting Designer, he has directed an award winning show for NBC and consulted for multiple Broadway productions and national touring companies. In addition to his semicha, he holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and speech/drama, Masters degrees in psychology and Jewish education, a doctorate in clinical psychology, a post-doctorate fellowship degree from Bar Ilan University, and is licensed and in private practice as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Krug wrote his post-doctoral thesis on “The Use Of Drama And Theatrical Technique in Informal Jewish Education,” an often cited work.

Johnny Krug

Lighting Design

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After playing in All My Sons and I Like Mike, and following a sterling performance as the bear in The Winter’s Tale, Roland is now focusing his many talents on the backstage. In A Stranger's Grave is his second venture in the magic of making things work from behind the scenes. In real life, Roland is a retired chemist who now studies the history of modern Chabad. 

Roland Mureinik

Production Assistant

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Sara has been creating props for the Jerusalem English-speaking theater scene for ten years. She has worked with Theater and Theology, Encore, WPC, JEST, and Israel Musicals. Her favorite creations include a pair of camels and a menacing crocodile. 

Sara Newman

Props and Stage Management

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Simone is studying at the Rothberg School at Hebrew University for the current academic year. She has designed sound for various productions and since coming to Israel, has designed and worked sound for Encore's The King and I and AACI's Steel Magnolias

Simone Stern

Sound Design

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Yael has been involved in the Israeli English-speaking acting scene for seventeen years as a writer, actor, voice actor, and director. Yael is a graduate of Matan's Ayanot program and of the Ruti Tamir Physical Theater Workshop and she teaches drama at Midreshet Emuna V'Omanut. She has been a member of Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo's think tank for the last ten years. Yael runs and teaches Bibliodrama workshops for Jewish and non-Jewish groups. She also voices animated characters for The Fox Network's BabyTV Channel. You can hear her voice (though you may not recognize it) in five current series. 

Yael Valier

Director

 

REVIEWS & MEDIA

 

 

Yakir Feldman, Jerusalem Post's In Jerusalem

 

UNSETTLING DISCOVERY: ‘IN A STRANGER’S GRAVE’

When one’s Jewish identity is suddenly stripped away, what is the price of cleaving to one’s convictions in the face of authority?

 

Once a Jew, always a Jew, right?
Not necessarily.
How would it affect you if you suddenly discovered that you (or your spouse and/or your children) are not Jewish? What would you do if the rabbinate one day informed you that you have been living unwittingly under false pretenses all of your life?
Can a lifelong committed Orthodox woman and her children abruptly find that they are outside the fold? What does it actually mean to be Jewish, anyway?
Unfortunately, questions of this nature are not theoretical for some people in our country. Such discoveries are made usually in the context of family life cycle events such as marriage or burial, and they can have profound impact on individuals and their families.
In a Stranger’s Grave is one such disturbing story.
In Jerusalem had the pleasure of attending a late-stage dress rehearsal of the world premiere of this thought-provoking play, which is opening, appropriately, in Jerusalem... 

Click here for the whole article.

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Unsettling-discovery-In-a-Strangers-Grave-589860

 

 

 

Barbara Sofer, Jerusalem Post Magazine

 

MORE THAN THE QUESTION OF ‘UN-JEWISHING’ SOMEONE

In Hebrew, we use the word “tragedia” to describe drama like Antigone, based on human suffering.

 

If you missed the play In a Stranger’s Grave, which completed its recent first sold-out run of seven performances at the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem, make sure you get tickets next time around. It’s scheduled to be performed again in September. The provocative play is about whether a convert can be “unjewished,” but it’s also a lot more.

In a Stranger’s Grave, in English, is written by Jerusalem playwright and actress Miriam Metzinger and directed by Efrat’s Yael Valier, founding creative director of the theater company Theater and Theology. It’s based on the Greek tragedy Antigone. For those whose university Sophocles is rusty, the fifth-century BCE Greek play centers on two sisters who want to see their brother buried with respect after he is killed fighting on the losing side of the Thebes Civil War. One sister, Antigone, is willing to risk her life to defy the new ruler’s order to leave his body in the field...

Click here for the whole article.  

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/More-than-the-question-of-un-Jewishing-someone-593109

 

 

 

 

OMNY English News Highlights; Interview with Playwright Miriam Metzinger

 

NEW PLAY EXPLORES CONVERSION AND IDENTITY

 

For the whole interview, click here.

https://omny.fm/shows/english-news-highlights/new-play-explores-conversion-and-identity?fbclid=IwAR35NFpjvH2qmlDICqpd7jKqK34a5UtVTIovTvBOhPeWVmCrraiJCueqi80

 

 

 

Rabbi Johnny Solomon, Scholar and Writer, Personal Blog

 

Last night Donna and I went to see ‘In a Stranger’s Grave’ which is a play run by the Theater and Theology troupe examining the human, social and halachic issues concerning conversion revocation and Jewish identity as defined by the rabbanut and halacha in the Modern State of Israel...

 

...In general, when sensitive Jewish questions are explored on TV and in the theatre, much of the nuance - either in terms of the legal issues or the personal issues - is lost in translation. Remarkably, this is not the case with respect to ‘In a Stranger’s Grave’ which captures, with convincing drama and palpable emotion, real cases that regrettably occur on a far more regular basis than most of us are aware of...

Click here for the whole review.

Click here for R' Solomon's website. 

 

 

 

Ruti Eastman, Never Ruthless, Times of Israel

 

PLAYING WITH THE GRAVE ISSUE OF CONVERSION ANNULMENT

 

It's unusual for a play to keep me from sleeping well. But I was in for one of those patented tossing-and-turning nights after watching Miriam Metzinger's play at Jerusalem's Khan Theater a few days before Shavuot.

Directed by Yael Valier as part of her debate-provoking Theater and Theology series, In a Stranger's Grave strikes very close to home for me. Two religious Jewish sisters prepare for the funeral of their mother in Israel, only to receive the shocking news that the burial society will not allow her to be buried in the Jewish section of the cemetery next to her husband. Their once-pious mother had discarded Jewish observance after the death of her husband, resulting in the rabbinical court questioning her original commitment at the time of her conversion to Judaism decades before...

Click here for the whole article.

https://rutieastman.blogspot.com/2019/06/playing-with-grave-issue-of-conversion.html?m=1

© 2017 by TheaterAndTheology.com.                                                                                                                              Photo Credits: Chana Goldstein  © 2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Avrah Levine  © 2018

Karen Feldman  © 2019

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