RebbeSoul, Stephanie, and Me

Some years ago I met Stephanie Liss, award winning playwright, through a Facebook women’s group. It became obvious the antisemitism wasn’t going to let up in that group so we Jewish women created our own group. Bias brought us together. I was living in San Diego County at the time. Stephanie was in the San Fernando Valley and invited me for Shabbat dinner. Ed Asner was supposed to come, but he called at the last minute and said he wasn’t feeling well. Melissa Manchester, famed songstress came, along with RebbeSoul aka Bruce Burger. These are normal Shabbats for Stephanie, who would be very embarrassed by my name dropping, but it was a new world for me then. Bruce was very down to earth and I didn’t realize his accomplishments until later. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RebbeSoul. Bruce had his balalaika and guitar. We had a ton of fun singing Shabbat songs.

I moved to Santa Fe on October 1st of 2019 and was quickly recruited to help out at CBT with my brother, Cantor Ephraim’s retirement party/fundraiser. In November of 2019 I was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to support Stephanie in the table read of her play, Sister Africa. Two weeks before the trip, she asked me to read for the play. Read? What did that involve? A bit more than narration. Stage directions needed to be read since the play wasn’t acted out. In other words, I had to convey to the audience that the character was in the Congo in Africa, and the beauty and dangers of being there. Then in another scene, a woman is in a synagogue in Los Angeles while Avinu Malkeynu was being sung. This was fine. I’m used to using my voice – singing, leading workshops, lectures, and even filling in for the rabbi and/or cantor. But suddenly I was on stage with celebrities (enough name dropping – you can ask me in private who they were). Stephanie liked my reading so much she decided to keep writing narration and put me in three more of her plays.

RebbeSoul creates the music for all of Stephanie Liss’ plays. He composed the original music for Escape from Tehran, which aired on JLTV.tv recently. Other airings are 3/12/24 8 pm ET, 5/19/24 3 pm ET, 8/16/24 9 pm ET, and 11/16/24 6 pm ET. If you don’t have JLTV on your streaming service, like Roku, you can watch live from their website. I’m on screen the entire time. This play is about Jews being ethnically cleansed from Iran. There are many more stories to be told and we pray this is only the beginning of a beautiful relationship with JLTV.

Recently, Stephanie applied and was accepted into the 2024 cohort of the Playground Incubator Program to develop new theatres! This means we have fiscal sponsorship and I am the official Executive Director of the American Jewish Theatre Company! From Stephanie, “Our stories – our Jewish voice- need to be in this world, and we are the only theatre company doing what we’re doing. For now, it will be my work, but once we’re well on our feet – we’ll open it up. Right now, we want to establish this, in a certain way. We will be a force with which to be reckoned, and we won’t buckle under antisemitism, opposition, etc. we WILL have a voice. This is for ALL of us.”

So there you have it. Stephanie is the Artistic Director and playwright, RebbeSoul provides the music, and I am the Executive Director.

RebbeSoul is coming to town. He will sing at our Friday night service on March 15th. His Israeli-Yemenite band partner may be with him. Shlomit is amazing and being heralded as the new Ofra Haza. The two will perform at a concert co-sponsored by Temple Beth Shalom on Sunday, March 17th. They have a larger space to accommodate more folks. We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring community together and what better way to do that than through world music?

My advice? See RebbeSoul before he gets too famous! At Congregation Beit Tikva Friday, March 15, 6 pm. At Temple Beth Shalom Sunday, March 17. Doors open at 3:30 pm. More info here.

February-March-April 2024 Newsletter

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RebbeSoul, Stephanie, and Me

RebbeSoul, Stephanie, and Me

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