The 2013 Pew Research's Center's "Portrait of Jewish Americans" painted a rather gloomy picture, reporting 22 percent of Jews describe themselves as having "no religion." However, PEW-ish, an unusual new project designed to expand the conversation about Jewish identity, has decided to take a more proactive approach–on the stage.
On June 26, Pew-ish will launch a special dramatic production of 10 new plays written by well-known playwrights including Bekah Brunsetter (ABC's Switched at Birth, upcoming “Cutie and Bear” at Roundabout Theatre), Jonathan Caren (“The Recommendation” at the Flea) and Anna Ziegler (“Photograph 51” at Theatre J).
“When Pew was released, it sparked endless debate inside the organized Jewish world,” said David Shmidt Chapman, founder of PEW-ish and a theatre director himself, in a recent press release. “But among my Jewish artist friends, few even knew the study existed, let alone that a debate was raging about their Jewish identity. PEW-ish will bring new, creative voices into the conversation.”
The evening of theatre, music, food and conversation is a harbinger for what is to come. Chapman said future Pew-ish programming will also engage artists working in music, dance, visual art, film and other media. Additionally, Pew-ish will work closely with other Jewish arts initiatives, including Asylum Arts and the Jewish Plays Project.
PEW-ish is supported in part by a micro-grant from ROI Community, which provides its members with a small professional development budget each year as part of its broader investment in enhancing their leadership skills and impact. ROI Community is an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, a global organization that seeks to ignite the passion and unleash the power in young people to create positive change in the Jewish community and beyond.
The first event will take place at the Loft at Judson Memorial Church in New York.