From Russia … with love @ Jewish Women’s Theatre

Having the privileged opportunity to visit Moscow last October, on a Jewish Federation sponsored mission, it was that much more meaningful to attend “The Cold War Gets Hot,” a Jewish Women’s Theatre event held at the Wende Museum. This show, titled “Past and Present,” featured mostly true, autobiographical stories of Russian Jewish Americans, telling their personal narratives of being born in the former Soviet Union and now living in America. A Safam song kept playing in my mind, as I watched each scenario: “We are leaving Mother Russia; we have waited far too long… when they come for us, we’ll be gone.” To introduce the evening, Ronda Spinak, JWT’s Artistic Director, eloquently stated, “making a connection between the past and present, the majority of the vignettes are true stories ; and the culture of fear, festering in America today, continues to affect us all.” A beautiful, melodic Russian lullaby started off the show, followed by passionate, heartfelt renderings of intriguing stories of courage and bravery. The first story dealt with growing up in a warm Jewish household, yet laden with shame. One woman spoke of her ultimate dream and sacrifice of emigrating to America amidst her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. When she arrived at the American embassy, to join her husband in America, on Thanksgiving, no less, they rejoiced in reunion, with turkey, cranberry sauce, and the rest… Russian food, of course! She’s now here 10 years, not an MD, but a PHD in public health! Another vignette was the story of Leonid Feldman, who basically felt he was taking baby steps, when conducting outreach to Israeli immigrants. He eventually became a rabbi, and after that, a Bar Mitzvah. Yet another story, by Nadia Kalman, was of a man who realizes an essential organ is missing, his nose! He drank vodka to dull the pain, both literal and figurative, as he adjusts to a new life, a new home, a new country with only one constant, his beloved daughter, whom he “remembers singing to sleep in Leningrad.” Eventually, the performers shared stories of the various individuals becoming accustomed to America and even created poetic metaphors: “the streetlights looked blue, like the snow in Leningrad and St. Petersburg.” Perhaps one woman summed up everyone’s mixed feelings perfectly: “I got so homesick; I left everything I knew and loved; but… I was free.”

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About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at and my email is
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