A girls night out in Israel…

January 18th 2011

DevorahA Girl’s night out in Israel the way it should be.

A whole new window into the world of Jewish women.  Warning: Restricted access only. By women, for women.

In an outrageously clever musical with original script and choreography, emerges JUDGE! Song of Devorah. Brought to you by the hearty women and girls of Gush Ezion, in their all-women’s theatre ensemble, Raise Your Spirits Theatre.

It’s got it all – a woman crooning in a heavy metal impersonation, a  bubbe in fluorescent vacation attire straight out of the Floridian coast, kvelling over her son’s success (even though he (she) happens to be also the story’s prime villain). It’s got ballet, modern dance, synchronized fight scenes, operatic professionals, pleasing harmonies, biblical verses being recited in traditional fashion, and women from across the generational and religous lines . Think the hilarious surprise and writing flair of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoast combined with the endearing communal warmth of Fiddler on the Roof.

The only thing is doesn’t have – is men. Like in the Shakespearian days, only in reverse.

Raise Your Spirits Theatre explains the birth of their cultural phenomenon – “In 2001, amidst an atmosphere of grief and terror, a group of women in Gush Etzion joined together to the raise spirits of their community and all of Israel.  Rather than succumb to the depression caused by daily terror attacks, they decided to start a project that would give them a positive outlet and something wonderful to look forward to. They decided to put on a show. The rest, as they say, is history.”

This show brings to light the lesser known historical account of the prophetess  and acclaimed judge Devorah, and the heroic Jewish struggle for (you guessed it) self preservation from enemies that wish to subjugate the Jews, this time against the Canaanite King Yavin, around the 12th century BCE.

JUDGE! courageously endeavors to discuss the still contemporary plight of religious women who are trying to negotiate between finding their voice versus appearing socially acceptable. The musical opens in a crowd-pleasing number, with the Jewish townspeople raving about Devorah. “You have a gift!” they insist. “Oh this?” Devorah shrugs modestly… “It’s nothing…” Later in the scene she argues with Barak, another Jewish leader- “How can I, a woman, outshine you?” So begins the complexity of the tale, of a Jewish woman’s search for her voice and the triumph that results from her rising up to the challenge.

Yael, the ultimate heroine, is likewise shown caught uncomfortably in the middle of this societal battle, in a cheeky and catchy number “Be a Good Girl”- with charm-school pressures whipping Yael into a frenzy.

Sisera, the evil villain who was King Yavin’s army general, is played by a bad-to-the-bone actress who saunters and jumps energetically around the stage, offering tons of comic relief.

One thing is for sure- throughout the play you will either be laughing out loud, tearing up, or tapping your feet to a catchy beat.

JUDGE! is an inspiring glimpse into the developing Jewish cultural movement, and the flourishing women’s arm of it. With more funding, this group could catapult to sensational heights.

Find out about the remaining JUDGE! performances, and other upcoming shows you can attend while touring in Israel, visit http://www.raiseyourspirits.org/