Theater Group Makes Torah Learning Fun

Moses Wears Floppy Hats and Israel-Lite Has 50 Calories

By Daniella Wexler

Published August 19, 2011, issue of August 26, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Wearing a funny hat and spewing bad biblical puns, Aaron Friedman didn’t look or sound like your typical Moses as he took to the stage during a recent performance by the Bible Players theater group.

“What’s the difference between an Israeli and an Israelite?” he asked fellow actor Andrew Davies, who played the part of the Burning Bush.

“Fifty calories,” Davies replied.

The yuk-fest is just what Friedman and Davies were aiming for when they founded the theater group in January. They hoped to make Torah learning more accessible and fun for children, with colorful costumes and modern takes on the timeless stories.

Bible Bits: Andrew Davies, left, and Aaron Friendman of the Bible Players theater group perform a skit.
Emilie Soffe
Bible Bits: Andrew Davies, left, and Aaron Friendman of the Bible Players theater group perform a skit.

“We want to be part of a solution for making it more fun and more engaging for kids,” said Davies, 27.

For the past few months, the Bible Players have been performing at synagogues and Jewish day schools around the New York area, acting out goofy “Bible Bits” skits and facilitating interactive games.

The two-man company is a minimalist act. When Friedman and Davies perform, they don’t wear costumes or use intricate props — just bright-colored outfits and hats.

“We want the kids to know they can also do improv themselves,” said Friedman, 28. “They don’t need costumes and a stage. It’s all about what’s in you.”

Both Friedman and Davies attended Solomon Schechter day schools and Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy, in Radnor, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. For the childhood friends, day school years were a mixed bag of good and bad teachers, some who sparked their creativity and some who put them to sleep.

Friedman graduated from Columbia University’s Jewish Theological Seminary Program in 2005, and Andrew graduated from Brandeis University in 2006. Since then, the two have collaborated on various comedy projects, and Bible Players is their latest venture.

“I think that a lot of schools are frankly turning kids off from Jewish education and Jewish life,” Davies said.

Davies and Friedman started out with comedic career ambitions, and both have sustained personal commitments to Jewish education.

“It’s great to tell jokes, but to actually tell jokes that have substance, that have meaning behind them, and a history, is even better,” Friedman said.

Like their counterparts at Storahtelling, an organization dedicated to Jewish education through performance, the Bible Players also train teachers to implement some of the pedagogical tools that they tout.

What makes the Bible Players different from Storahtelling, Friedman said, is that he and Davies are focused on comedy catered to a younger audience, comprised of kinderg arteners through seventh graders.

The Bible Players also avoid religious pontification, relying on stories to excite young students about the Bible.

“We don’t push God so much,” Friedman said. “It’s more about the morals and the mitzvot.”

Daniella Wexler is a freelance writer living in New York.


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!
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • “People at archives like Yad Vashem used to consider genealogists old ladies in tennis shoes. But they have been impressed with our work on indexing documents. Now they are lining up to work with us." This year's Jewish Genealogical Societies conference took place in Utah. We got a behind-the-scenes look:
  • 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.