Members of the St. Joseph’s Academy/Catholic High School Black Box Company enjoyed a special visitor on February 21. Rabbi Jordan Goldson from Congregation B’nai Israel spoke to the drama club about Judaism and the Jewish culture.
The Black Box Company will present the musical Fiddler on the Roof April 3-7. The story centers around Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family’s Jewish religious and cultural traditions in Imperial Russia at the turn of the 20th century.
Lily McGill is moderator of the Black Box Company. She said she extended the invitation to Rabbi Goldson to help her students learn about the Jewish culture. “In the show, religious and cultural traditions are very important to the citizens of Anatevka,” she said. “Though many of our cast members are well-versed in the importance of traditions through their Catholic faith, I thought Rabbi Goldson could help us make even more connections between 1905 Russia and 2019 America. Rabbi Goldson discussed differences between Catholicism and Judaism, the significance of many Jewish items and the history of the Jewish people. We were surprised that he knew the show so well; it was clear that this story is close to his heart. He even sang a short rendition of If I Were a Rich Man.”
Senior Ainsley Schulte said she enjoyed gaining a new understanding of the Jewish culture. “I’m glad that he came to talk to us because now that I have a better understanding of the religion, I know how imperative it is to execute the different motions, prayers and traditions of the Jewish people in an accurate way,” she said. “I think Rabbi Goldson’s visit definitely helped express the importance and gravity of the show we’re doing to the cast. Hopefully, the Rabbi’s visit will aid us in portraying the celebrations, struggles and culture of the Jewish people in the most real way possible.”
Freshman Olivia Mack said she especially enjoyed the question-and-answer session at the end of the Rabbi’s talk. “It was most meaningful to me,” she said. “He answered questions without making us think we were uncultured. What made it so meaningful was the fact that he took time out of his day to teach and talk to us about the religion he loves. It really taught me how important it is to have faith, no matter what religion, and how important tradition is to everyone.”
Junior Caroline Feduccia said she was thrilled to meet the Rabbi and to prepare for the musical production of with the new perspective he provided. “Fiddler on the Roof is such a touching story that is still relevant in our society today, and to talk with someone so dedicated to the faith was very eye opening,” she said. “It is very important to the cast and crew that we are respectful and accurate with everything we do and say in the show related to the faith. We are ecstatic to share this story with our community, and we hope that the audience respects the traditions and customs that we reflect in the show, as they are key themes in the story.”
Congregation B’nai Israel, which is located across the street from St. Joseph’s Academy, is celebrating its 160th year as one of the oldest Reform temples in the country.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Lily McGill