So Many Discussions – So Little Time (to report)

Each of the post-show discussions, and the two post-performance peace cafes we’ve hosted since the opening of RETURN TO HAIFA have merited lengthy write-ups. But the crush of producing and corresponding and reading demands have made that impossible. But it will happen, beginning Tuesday night, following yet another diversely represented panel*, this one in partnership with our friends at Yes We Can Middle East Peace featuring Aziz Fahmy Farag (Director of Government Relations at Yesmep and 33 year veteran journalist who worked both for the American networks in the Middle East and Arab TV networks in Washington); Kay Halpern (member of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, active in Middle East peace and interfaith efforts); Dan Spiro (author and essayist and cofounder of the Jewish Islamic Dialogue Society); Jim Vitarello (Co-founder YesMEP and Sharing Jerusalem); and Elliott Colla (Chair of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University and a scholar of the works of Ghassan Kanafani).

[*a note, that not every panel has been “diversely” representational; sometimes, like last night, we featured two rabbis — in this case Rabbi Charles M. Feinberg (Adas Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights); Rabbi Gerry Serrotta (Executive Director of Clergy Beyond Borders and Rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh Congregation) who were talking about their work at Rabbis For Human Rights and their reactions to the play. Earlier in the week, Washington Hebrew Congregation led a conversation, principally for 80 of their board members and their spouses, with audience and community members listening in and, eventually participating. That panel, entitled “Controversy or Complacency: The Shrinking Space for Public Dialogue” featured Rabbi Bruce Lustig (Senior Rabbi, Washington Hebrew Congregation); Naomi Rosenblatt (educator, psychotherapist, author of “Wrestling With Angels”); Jacques Berlinerblau (Head of Civilization Program at Georgetown); Paul Mason (Co-Chair, Theater J Council) was, interestingly, our most fractious conversation, perhaps because it had a certain “inside the synagogue” vocabulary about it, allowing for a conversation that didn’t necessarily “take in the other” narrative. More on this Tuesday too…]

I couldn’t be happier about the percentage of audience staying for each talk-back; for every sold-out house of 240+ ticket buyers, well-over half stay for the hour-long sessions and another dozen or more come in specifically for the discussion. We’re hearing from some of those regulars (per our last post). And we’ve been receiving some beautiful emails about last week’s sessions; just waiting now for permission to post those emails onto the blog. So stay tuned. These events will have all been covered in another 36 hours; but until then, if anyone has a write-up, or some thoughts to share about any one of the past nine talk-backs, do feel free to share!

PS – to see a full up-to-date line up of all our discussions for RETURN TO HAIFA, click here