After I got married in 1961, I got involved with the Lubavitch community in Montreal, Canada, where we were living.
One of the first issues that came up was the lack of any kind of entertainment venues for the community – such as movies or theater productions. So, in order to fix that, I helped start a drama group with the aim of producing plays for women. Once a year around Purim time, we would stage a play with the proceeds going to Maot Chittim (the so-called “Wheat Fund” which provided poor families with Passover necessities).
Not only was the religious community served by these shows, many non-observant Jews got involved as well. They auditioned for parts in the plays and, in the process, we all became friends. In this way we were able to get to know people whom we’d never have met otherwise. And, as the rehearsals took place three or four nights a week, in the course of working so closely together, we had a lot of influence on them.
The shows were done quite professionally. We hired directors and musicians, and the scripts were written by Mrs. Golda Schwei, who adapted Broadway musicals, rewriting them and giving them a Jewish theme. For instance, we took The Sound of Music and called it The Sound of Torah. We kept the music, but we rewrote the lyrics. The result was a classy production, and our first two performances were filled to the capacity.
Of course, we sent the Rebbe a ticket each time, and each time, he sent us a letter wishing us success. As well, when he learned that some people ridiculed our efforts, he sent us a letter of support.
After four years of doing this, we realized that we had to stop. It just took too much effort. For fourth months, while we were rehearsing, we were consumed by the project. During this time, our husbands had to watch the kids. We’d be running out seven o’clock each night, and our husbands had to do the homework with the kids and put them to sleep. For those ladies whose husbands balked, it wasn’t easy.
Nevertheless, because the plays were so successful, we didn’t give up, even when it was clear we should. We kept saying, “This is going to be the last one,” but the next year we would start up again.
Then we finally decided – this is it. Our husbands were fed up; they didn’t want us doing it anymore.
But then the Rebbe stepped in. (more…)