KUDOS AND CONTROVERSY
An enthusiastic preview of Divine Right in the Jerusalem Post:
The Times of Israel reviewer came to the Divine Right dress rehearsal and wrote this recommendation:
A plug for Divine Right in Haaretz:
This Times of Israel reviewer loved Divine Right... "The cast was superb. Even the actors with minor roles put great effort and thought into their characters and performance... to create something spectacular."
...but she hated the message:
This audience member thinks we got Divine Right all wrong:
My husband and I, along with some friends, viewed the production last week. I was especially pleased because I had always wondered about the debate between the Ramban and the Church and never took the time to research it. The production was well done and thought provoking.
One criticism however. I was particularly disturbed by the Pablo Christiano character making so many references to having been physically abused by his father and teachers in their efforts to teach him Torah. Goodness only knows what took place in Medieval times when all of society, Jew and Christian, was harsh with children. Still, it is inappropriate to single out this one character, without any evidence or proof, as suggesting abuse a parent, rabbis and teachers in the Jewish community as a reason for the Pablo character to turn against the Ramban in particular and the Jewish community in general. While abuse did occur and still occurs, it is not pervasive in our culture as it is in other cultures or communities. Secondly, at a time when the Church is being confronted for having tolerated physical and especially sexual abuse, it is especially appalling to see this script play out on stage. What are non Jews to think and come away with? You are giving Pablo an excuse for his behavior. Pablo does not need an excuse. His having converted and left the Jewish fold is enough information.
I felt very uncomfortable with his dialogue. I felt he slandered Jews, rabbis and Jewish teachers. Our literature does not reflect such a point of view. In fact, quite the opposite. It is forbidden to hit a fellow Jew, to cause him injury, to cause him pain. Only in the nineteenth century Yiddish literature do we find repeated references to the physical abuses inflicted on children by the MELAMED in the CHEDER system.
I would strongly suggest that you change and improve the text of Pablo Christiano's remarks especially if this play is performed for a non Jewish audience. Christians already have sufficient negative stereotypical behavior to hold against Jews, why add another especially one so unfounded?
And this audience member disagrees:
...Also, I did love the addition of the priests' "daddy issues". In my years as a counter missionary, I've tried to turn the anger and sometimes even vicious hatred towards missionaries, and help people realize that it's often us who is the issue. Before we blame others, it's important to look ourselves in the mirror. Pablo Christiani was a perfect example of that. It was infighting, and division among our own community that ostracized him, alienated him.... and the result was that we created one of our own worst enemies, simply because of how we chose to treat each other. It was during that time too, that we chose to focus on what divides us, rather than the good we have in common, and can do together to better our world. Jewish unity is desperately needed in our world today, when we have the left and the right at each others throats, the reform movement making their place in Israel, women of the wall and this egalitarian section debate... the divisive issues are endless.