Theater J Scales Back Show as Pro-Israel Critics Pressure Washington D.C. Troupe

'The Admission' Will Be Workshop — Not Full Production

Controversial: One of Theater J’s disputed productions was 2011’s ‘Return to Haifa,’ which critics claimed took an anti-Israel approach.
stan barouh
Controversial: One of Theater J’s disputed productions was 2011’s ‘Return to Haifa,’ which critics claimed took an anti-Israel approach.

By Nathan Guttman

Published October 09, 2013, issue of October 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 5 of 5)

In an interview with the Forward, Robert Levi, chairman of the board of the National Council of Young Israel, argued that the Federation should not be using hard earned donation dollars for a cause “that a consensus of the Jewish community does not support.” He stressed, however, that he was not calling on donors to boycott the Federation or to refrain from funding it, since he did not think “we should cut off our nose to spite our face.”

In an open letter to Steve Rakitt, the Federation’s executive vice president and CEO, Levi wrote that “The Admission” “reflects a neo-anti-Israeli perspective, which is contrary to the mission of the Federation.”

Gelman publicized her opposing views in an opinion piece in Washington Jewish Week that she co-wrote with her husband, Michael Gelman, who, like her, is a past president of the Federation. In the article, they supported Theater J’s freedom to choose its artistic content.

Susie Gelman told the Forward that she did not believe COPMA’s call for suspending donations to the Federation would influence many. But she warned that linking the controversy over the play to supporting the Federation was “taking the debate to a whole new level.” The move could have a chilling effect on future work of agencies receiving support from the Federation, she said, adding, “I don’t think we should give them this victory.”

In an “open letter to our community” issued September 24, the Federation stood behind its decision to fund the Washington DCJCC and its hosting of Theater J. “It is not our job to meddle in their autonomous decision making,” the letter stated. “It is our job to live up to the ideals of Abraham, to create an open tent for all Jews, to demonstrate our love of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman


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!
  • "Selma. Nearly 50 years ago it was violent Selma, impossibly racist Selma, site of Bloody Sunday, when peaceful civil rights marchers made their first attempt to cross the Pettus Street Bridge on the way to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama." http://jd.fo/r50mf With the 50th anniversary approaching next spring, a new coalition is bringing together blacks, Jews and others for progressive change.
  • Kosovo's centuries-old Jewish community is down to a few dozen. In a nation where the population is 90% Muslim, they are proud their past — and wonder why Israel won't recognize their state. http://jd.fo/h4wK0
  • Israelis are taking up the #IceBucketChallenge — with hummus.
  • In WWI, Jews fought for Britain. So why were they treated as outsiders?
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • 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.