Covenant Foundation grant-funded initiative will shed light on non-white Jewish narratives

(Washington, DC) – The J Theater, the nation’s largest and most prominent Jewish theater, announces an exciting new program, “Expanding the Canon,” which will ask seven extraordinarily racially and ethnically diverse Jewish writers to create comprehensive new plays that thematically and visually center diverse Jewish narratives. This program is for Jews of Color, multiracial/multiethnic Jews, and Mizrachi (Middle Eastern and North African) and Sephardi (Iberian) Jews who seek to correct and expand historically limited representations of Jewishness on stages in the United States and around the world. Playwrights will be identified through both a search process and a submission process, which can be found on the J Theater website. The expansion of the Canon is made possible in large part through funds granted by The Covenant Foundation.

Each author will receive a $10,000 commission to create a new play over two and a half years; each will also have access to a $5,000 development budget that can be used for readings, workshops, research, and travel.

The program will start in August 2022 with an intensive three-day course “Beit Midrash” directed by Rosh Beit Sabrina Sojourner, a Shaliakh Tsibur and nationally recognized Jewish leader. They will guide the cohort of commissioned writers through a program covering Jewish life, thought, history and literature. This intensive learning process will give playwrights access to texts and understandings of Jewish thought and tradition that will inspire them as they begin to create their plays. Throughout the commission, writers will meet monthly to continue learning, share additional resources and written materials for the workshop. “I am thrilled to be a part of ‘Expanding the Canon,’ says Sojourner, “to be part of an organization committed to supporting, nurturing and strengthening connections among Jewish artists of color. Most importantly, we all look forward to the stories they will bring to the wider Jewish community and to the world.

Excerpts from the finished scripts will be shared at a final roundup in December 2024. All commissioned scripts will be heavily considered for the J Theater main stage productions.

The new initiative is led by J Theater Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr, who adds, “Jewish theater is thriving all over this country. And yet much of this theater continues to center the stories of white Ashkenazi Jews, instead of presenting the true picture of Jewishness in all its multiethnic and multicultural diversity. Expanding the Canon seeks to remedy this by commissioning seven amazing playwrights to create a new canon of Jewish theater for our century. »

“I’m beyond excited about this project!” says Dava Schub, CEO of Edlavitch DC JCC. “As JCC in our country’s capital, and with the support of the Covenant Foundation, we are poised to expand the telling of Jewish stories told on stages across the country and create space for extraordinary new storytellers are seen, celebrated and supported through this three-year commission process.

J Theater General Manager David Lloyd Olson adds, “Coming from a mixed family of Syrian Ashkenazi Jewish and Mexican ancestry, I have always understood that the Jewish experience is more dynamic and diverse than the majority of Jewish playwrights. . We are grateful for the support of the Covenant Foundation whose funding will help us add layers to the portrait of Jewishness by commissioning plays that focus on the multi-racial and multi-ethnic histories that have always been and will continue to be part of the Jewish community. experience.”

Applications must be submitted by March 15, 2022. For more information on the Expanding the Canon initiative and how to apply, please click here.

Theater J is a program of DCJCC Edlavitch. The J Theater performs at the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater, located at 1529 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC, four blocks east of Dupont Circle. For more information on Theater J, contact their box office at: 202.777.3210 or visit their website here.


About Theater J

The J Theater is a nationally recognized professional theater that celebrates, explores and grapples with the complexities and nuances of the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines the ethical issues of our time, cross-cultural experiences paralleling our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the largest and most important Jewish theater in the country, we aim to preserve and develop a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theatrical experiences.

About DCJCC Edlavitch

The J Theater is a proud program of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC). Guided by Jewish values ​​and heritage, Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center engages individuals and families through its cultural, recreational, educational and social justice programs by welcoming people from all walks of life to connect, learn, serve and entertain together in a way that reflects the Centre’s unique role in the nation’s capital.

DCJCC Edlavitch embraces inclusion in all of its programs and activities. We welcome and encourage participation from all people, regardless of background, sexual orientation, ability or religion, including interfaith couples and families.

About the Alliance Foundation

The Covenant Foundation recognizes the diversity of strengths in Jewish education in North America, across all faiths and backgrounds. By honoring outstanding Jewish educators and supporting creative approaches to programming, the Foundation strives to strengthen educational efforts that perpetuate the identity, continuity and heritage of the Jewish people. The Foundation believes that those with the creativity and passion to be catalysts for change and innovation in Jewish education deserve recognition and support. The Covenant Foundation is a program of Crown Family Philanthropies.

Printable, PDF and email version