Something exciting is happening, for women only, in Queens this month. Mikva the Musical: Music and Monologues from the Deep of Raise Your Spirits Theatre from Israel is coming to America. There will be one show in Queens: on Sunday, June 23, 8:00-10:00 p.m. at Beth Gavriel in Forest Hills, hosted by Chazaq Women’s Division. The renowned kiruv organization, whose motto is “building a stronger future,” brings quality programs to enrich the Jewish community and has brought over 600 Jewish students from public school to be enrolled in yeshivos.
Mikva the Musical is a theater experience with a stellar female cast from Israel, composed of authentic stories and songs. The musical production team is led by Toby Klein Greenwald, international journalist and the hot-off-the-press recipient of the 2019 American Jewish Press Association Simon Rockower Jewish Journalism Award and co-creator of 11 Torah-based shows in Israel. Myra Gutterman, co-creator of this show, is a brilliant dramatic arts pioneer and visionary in improvisation theater. Several of the monologues are drawn from the book Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology by Rivkah Slonim. It is compelling storytelling, filled with honesty, laughter, and tears – an eye-opening and transformational evening. Situations are enacted through vivid performances of incredible sensitivity. We are also tuned in to those who face challenges, and include in our cast an actress in a wheelchair, who has created her own dance troupe in Jerusalem of women in wheelchairs partnered with women standing.
Mikva the Musical is performed as Reader’s Theater, where the text comes alive by using voice, facial expressions, and gentle choreography. There are no intricate sets or extravagant costumes. It is about the power of the word, the power of song, and the power of life itself.
Victoria Zirkiev, President of the Chazaq Women’s Division, is enthusiastic about hosting this show. She is also a producer for many international celebrity entertainers. She stated, “Mikvah is a key tradition promoting Jewish femininity and family purity. This musical is out of the ordinary, not to be missed and will be the talk of the town.”
Henya Storch of the Storch Agency International is the manager of the American tour, together with Producer Penina Batsheva Popack of Lawrence, New York. Henya shared, “To be involved with a spiritually entertaining woman’s production like this, is unique, fabulous, and a true labor of love.” Popack adds, “We have received many requests to bring this show to various communities around the world. And with G-d’s help, it will happen.”
The show has received rave reviews:
Gila Manolson, renowned author, wrote, “I laughed and cried. It was wonderful.”
Laurie Novick, yoetzet halachah (halachic advisor to women on issues of mikvah): “The show was remarkable in bringing a sense of that broader story to the wider community… I am confident that the audience left the show with a deeper understanding of other women’s journeys and felt inspired by the depth of commitment to this mitzvah.”
Scholar and author Prof. Susan Handelman said, “Just as a woman emerges from the waters of the mikvah purified and new, so did I feel as I left the performance.”
Barbara Sofer, journalist for The Jerusalem Post and Israel director of public relations at Hadassah, wrote, “Prepare for a night of surprises. This is the most nuanced show you’ll see this season.”
Rabbi Manis Friedman, reacting to Mikva the Musical coming to New York in June 2019, proclaimed, “It’s about time!”
“Fabulous evening! A rockin’ success!” exclaimed Fayge Bedell, balanit from Efrat, Israel.
Women should come and bring their friends and family (women ages 18-120). You never know whom you can inspire or help. This show is meant for Jewish women of all backgrounds. The cast and crew of Mikva the Musical believe in outreach to the community.
As a matter of fact, recently, on June 3, the cast performed in southern Israel, in Kiryat Gat, to help raise money to repair the mikvah that was severely damaged by a rocket from Gaza on the night of May 4, 2019. The mikvah lady was less than a minute away when the rocket struck, and she was miraculously spared.
Ticket sales and donations will enable the continuation of this professional show.
By Susie Garber