An Unorthodox (Orthodox) Production

By Michael Kaminer

Published February 17, 2010, issue of February 26, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

You won’t find Congregation Me’Ever Lechomos in a directory of Toronto’s Orthodox synagogues. That’s because the name’s an alias for downtown’s Theatre Passe Muraille, now convincingly dressed up as a synagogue for its latest production.

Wedding Jitters: Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis play a newly married couple in ‘Yichud.’
KEITH BARKER
Wedding Jitters: Julie Tepperman and Aaron Willis play a newly married couple in ‘Yichud.’

Yichud” — the title refers to the room where Orthodox newlyweds enjoy their first private moments — depicts familial dramas swirling around a young couple’s wedding, from a nervous groom to his shiker, or drunkard, brother to a homophobic rebbe.

“It’s rare that Orthodox Jews get a voice onstage, at least in Canada,” said 30-year-old Julie Tepperman, the Toronto-based creator and star of “Yichud.” “We show Orthodox people as human beings, with flaws and desires. The play goes to some dark and honest places.”

A kind of frum “Tony and Tina’s Wedding,” the play also thrusts the audience into the festivities. A boisterous klezmer trio rocks out before each performance, as the cast — and a few brave spectators — dances in sex-segregated spaces.

“Our original vision for the show was to keep men and women separate in the audience, too, but we realized it was more provocative and beneficial to open it up,” Tepperman said. “But people take it very seriously. Women come up before the show and ask the bride for blessings.”

The much talked about set — really the entire building — bolsters the show’s authenticity, from fake stained glass to the basket of yarmulkes at the entrance. A synagogue “bulletin board” near the theater’s restrooms even congratulates nonexistent members on pregnancies and academic achievements (“Mazel tov Noam Cohen for becoming a full-fledged surgeon”).

“At least once a performance, someone says how amazing it is that the synagogue let us use the space,” Tepperman said. Though the play’s run ends on February 27, Tepperman is hoping to bring the show to New York next year. With the Actors Temple on West 47th Street in use as a theater since 2006, an off-Broadway run for “Yichud” doesn’t seem like such a stretch.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.