When I think about the impact that community theatre has had on my life, the answer is one you may not expect. Of course, I love the actual process of being involved with a show, from the auditions to the rehearsals and the performances. Theatre has been my hobby since I was a kid and I’ve been involved with a number of different companies. However, what is different about the English community theatre scene in Jerusalem is that we are about more than the show. There is a sense of unity being among Israelis, many of which are Olim or children of Olim.
As an olah who made aliyah five years ago, this community has been my rock. I first discovered them when a friend told me about auditions for A Chorus Line, being produced by Encore Youth and Starcatcher. At the time, I was studying at a midrasha in Bat Ayin, which was rather isolated and, beyond the beautiful surroundings, there wasn’t much to do. I jumped at the opportunity to audition for this show, but I didn’t know what to expect. I arrived at auditions not knowing anyone, but people were welcoming and there was a friendly atmosphere. I had the best audition of my life and I had a great feeling about this production. Little did I know that this would be my first of five shows working with Starcatcher. I had found my people.
After my first show, I wanted to see what else was out there so I went on to work with AACI and Beit Hillel and meet more people. When someone first moves to a country, it’s difficult to make friends and feel immediately comfortable. I believe that having a strong support system around you is vital. I made aliyah after living in Israel for a year, and one of the biggest reasons that made me feel I could be at home here was the theatre community. I didn’t feel like I was on my own because I not only saw my cast mates at rehearsals, but also at Shabbat meals and weekday hang outs. One of these get-togethers actually led me to meet my husband, Jojo, who came to see J-Town Playhouse’s production of Second Star to the Left. We happened to sit next to each other at dinner on closing night, he told me he was single, and we hit it off right away. All right, all Chicago references aside, it was a significant night for me, and one that wouldn’t have happened without the fact that theatre people have the urge to spend 24/7 together during a run.
Since that night, we have enjoyed countless chagim and Shabbatot together with our mutual friends from the theatre. We are both olim with a small number of relatives in Israel, so these people have really become like our family. People have given us advice about living in Israel and have always welcomed us into their homes (thanks Kaufmans).
I strongly encourage anyone that is looking for a wonderful group of people to not only perform with, but to build a life with, to check out the Jerusalem community theatre scene. It has been a life-changing experience for me and one I am eternally grateful for.