Marriage is hard. It requires compromise, understanding, and sensitivity to your spouse/significant other’s flaws.
The new play, The Wanderers, by Anna Ziegler follows two Jewish couples (one semi-secular and one religious) and a movie star. Abe (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Sophie (Sarah Cooper) are married and have two children. Both are writers. But while Abe is successful, Sophie’s career is floundering.
Esther (Lucy Freyer) and Schmuli (Dave Klasko) start out as Hasidic newlyweds. Though all seems well in the beginning, they start to emotionally drift from one another. Schmuli is happy to continue with the traditions that he grew up with. But Esther is eager to expand her world.
The narrative is brought together by an email correspondence that Abe has with actress Julia Cheever (Katie Holmes). Though it starts innocently enough, their relationship becomes deeper than expected.
Set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, this play is fantastic. Though these characters live in a specific neighborhood and live a specific lifestyle, their stories are universal. It’s about trying to find yourself and knowing that in doing so, you may have to break with everything and everyone you love.
What the playwright does especially well is to humanize the character. With antisemitism on the rise, it is easy to create a 2D stereotype. By making them human, she (hopefully) opens the door to a conversation about what we all have in common. She also brings (much-needed) attention to Jews of color, who are often ignored or pushed aside.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Wanderers are playing at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre Laura Pels theater in New York City until April 2. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.
One of the many rights that a parent has is to determine how their child should be educated. That being said, if the young person is not able to function as an adult because their academic experience was lacking, then something must be done to fix it.
I am not an alumnus of any of these institutions. I was sent to public school during the day and attended Hebrew school in the afternoon. Obviously, I cannot speak from personal experience.
In the Hasidic world, men are expected to become religious scholars. It is the women who earn traditional degrees and later a paycheck while taking care of the family.
I understand the purpose of educating the next generation in a faith-based setting (particularly when that faith is a minority). It is important to know the language, traditions, and history of one’s family. I also know that public education in this country is not up to par.
However, the accusations made can be seen as antisemitic. It does not matter that the reporters could be of the same religion as the subjects of the story. Even if the state and the city were lax in doing their own follow-up, the idea that these communities were using the money improperly only adds to lies about my co-religionists and the hate-based crimes. On top of that, the Times does not exactly have a history of having journalistic integrity when it comes to my religion.
Regardless of one’s perspective, this topic is bound to be controversial. I just wish that the truth, whatever it is, comes to a conclusion that allows young people to receive the classroom experience they deserve.
Humans were not meant to be alone. We need other people, we need to be loved and wanted. But sometimes, that need conflicts with the internal knowledge that we are different.
The 2017 Netflixdocumentary, One of Us, follows three former NYC-based Hasidic Jews as they break away from their previous lives. To say that this process is difficult is an understatement. It’s more than the change in physical appearance. The emotional journey from where they started to where they ended is challenging, to say the least. It requires the knowledge that they may lose everyone they love in the process.
Going through this process is akin to coming out of the closet as an LGBTQ person. The push-pull of being true to yourself while wanting to be accepted is a psychological see-saw that no one should go through. But we live in a world that says that the only way we will be loved is if we conform to what is “normal”.
Though the subjects of this film are Jewish, one does not need to be of the same faith to try to understand what these people are going through. I suspect that there are many people, of all faiths, who were raised one way, but come to realize that that is not how they want to live.
I think it is fair to say that anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence these days would say that Covid-19 has forced all of us to adjust how we live. I think that it is also fair to say that given the current crisis, it would behoove those in the halls of power to work together.
Last night was the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Mertz, who according to press reports, died from complications from Covid-19. As is the custom in Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, the funeral was public with thousands of mourners crowding the streets in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. In normal times, this would be a non-news issue for all but the local community. But we are not living in normal times.
According to an article in Gothamist, the Police department knew about this before hand. But yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the entire Jewish community of New York City of breaking the social distancing rules.
The problem that I have with his accusation is that instead of specifically pointing the finger at those in attendance, he blamed every Jew in New York City. I am a Jew and I live in New York City. Was I at this funeral? No. He should be putting the blame on those who were there, not on all practitioners of that particular religious identity. He should have also spoken to his police officials before making this kind of accusations.
Last week was Yom Hashoah. Given our current political climate, the recent climactic (and bloody) events in Jewish history and the extreme rise in antisemitism, I would think twice before making such a comment.
Which is why I did not vote for this man and will be more than happy to see him out of office when his term ends.
But something inside of her said that she was different. In her 20’s, after marrying and having a child, Abby knew that it was time to be herself. Even if that meant being estranged from the family and the community that she grew up in.
I loved this book because the author lays it all on the page. It is an honest, heartfelt, sometimes painful memoir of a time in her life when she was living as two different people. Though Ms. Stein comes from a specific community with a specific faith, her story is universal. There are many of us in this world who live two lives. We know at some point, we must come out of the closet, in whatever form that takes.
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