ORT helped to make Jewish schools the best in the region and attractive for students, and helped bring talented, gifted Jewish kids to our schools.
The most prestigious Award in the Russian Jewish community from the FJCR, “The Fiddler on the Roof, “went to the Moscow ORT technology school theatre studio “Sheket.” The annual ceremony took place Wednesday in the Kremlin.
“This story began seven years ago, when Nina Bloch, Russian language and literature teacher came to work at our school,” said Marina Moiseeva, Moscow ORT school principal. “Being the largest Jewish school in Russia with more than 1200 students, we always support new grassroots educational initiatives, especially when it comes from our teachers and students. When Nina suggested establishing a school theatre studio we didn’t expect that this project will become so important and successful. Today when I see our students and graduates on the Moscow Kremlin stage, I felt proud for them and for the work we are doing.”
What makes this story even more interesting is this is the first time in the history of the “Fiddler on the Roof” Award that it has been presented to a non-professional theatre. In previous years the winners in the “Theatre” category included only the most famous professional Russian theaters and directors for Jewish-themed productions.
“Our theatre award was for “Dreyfus,” a play we produced last year. Of course it was a big surprise and I still cannot believe we won. School theatre is very different from a professional one. We don’t have professional members in our team. I was a director of the play; the art teacher helped us with the decorations and many other school teachers were involved. The entire play was performed by the high school students. This is the best team of theater dilettantes,” according to Polina Kasyanova, director and also a school alumnae.
“Dreyfus” by Jean-Claude Grumberg is a “theater in theater” play about an amateur Jewish theater in Vilno set in 1930. The play takes the audience back in time to before the Holocaust in the Vilno Jewish community. The story is about feelings, desires and dreams, and people. The audience knows the continuation of the story, but the characters don’t.
“This is one of the best examples of informal Jewish education projects in our schools,” Mikhail Libkin, ORT Russia Director of Development said. “The way we make our schools attractive and successful is through STEM, technology education. But it’s very naïve to think that this is enough. We try to use all possible ways of combining formal and informal education to make teaching processes effective and interesting. When the school informed us that they established a theatre we thought together how we can use it for informal Jewish education. We turned to the best Jewish publishing agency (“Knizhniki”) to help us find an interesting and important script to produce a show. Chief editor Boruh Gorin suggested “Dreyfus” and you can see the result today.
However, what is the most important is an unmeasured result – projects like this are the best help to developing identity, they change people. I participated in a discussion after the play, and I saw the students’ enthusiasm and enjoyment. This is the way in which the Russian Jewish community works. This is an example of very good cooperation: ORT helped to make Jewish schools the best in the region and attractive for students, and helped bring talented, gifted Jewish kids to our schools. “Knizhniki” translated and published the masterpieces of world Jewish literature and all together we cultivate the life of the Jewish community: give the best education, the best future and a Jewish identity to our kids.”