Let’s face it: there’s a lot of hype about Taglit-Birthright Israel. There are diehard fanatics in favor and detractors against. But maybe most important is the population that gets to experience Israel for the first time through a trip with their peers, and which is under the most scrutiny to display a palpable or visual impact. Not every madrich or madricha gets the chance to see what happens after the ten days are over. And sometimes, amid the demographer wars over numbers, the individual faces and stories get lost.
But a new Birthright Israel-sponsored show, “I.D.” (formerly known as the Birthright Israel Monologues), allows eleven alumni to tell their individual stories. These are stories of personal transformation, discovery of Jewish identity, and rediscovery of connections to family on the micro- and macro-level. Any promotion for Birthright within the monologues is minimal, and only present if it serves the story; waxing glazen-eyed rhapsodic about Israel is not part of the program.
Some of the performances incorporate staccato beats you might expect from spoken word and hip-hop, a distinctive tone that is explained once you learn that Vanessa “the Hebrew Mamita” Hidary directed the show, workshopping the monologues in group and one-on-one sessions.
I could call out some of the more impressive performances by name, but how could I choose? I’ll let YouTube decide by random selection. The first one of the Birthright Israel Monologues to show up in a search (filmed at a previous performance) is Daliya Karnovsky Bros.
For tickets and more information about I.D.’s upcoming performances in New York (Saturday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 25) and in Philadelphia (Sunday, May 11), click here.