Friday, April 3, 2009

1776 - or 1948

Last night Daniel and I went with a group of HUC students to see a production of 1776 by a Jerusalem English-speaking amateur theater company. The production was pretty decent for community theater and of course the HUC cantors who took part in it were terrific, but one of the most interesting moments of the whole show happened at the very end, after the bows and the applause, when John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamen Franklin, and a host of others stood lined up on the stage and the director stepped forward to address the audience. She explained that while 1776 is a story about America, the sacrifices made in the name of democracy and freedom are close to the hearts of us all because of the sacrifices made in the establishment of our own country, Israel. She recognized an audience member who had been an Israeli spy in Lebanon and had been improsoned for years as a result of her work. Then, a tearful John Adams continued in making the connections betwene the pursuit of liberty in colonial America and Jews in Israel fighting for their own land and an escape to anti-Semitism. He asked the audience to rise, and a group of people with American accents were led by English-speakers in American colonial garb in the singing of HaTikvah. The sentimental nationalism was a bit much for me, but afterwards, several of us exclaimed about that moment and how we'd like to write term papers on American Jewish Israeli immigrant identity - how they expressed their American-ness as Jews living in Israel, and how they expressed their Jewishness and Israeliness through and by connecting it to American mythology surrounding the founding fathers. It was all very... interesting.

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