‘PEW-ISH’ Offers Broad(er) Way for Jewish Engagement

PewishPEW-ISH, an unusual new project to expand the conversation about Jewish identity, especially among unaffiliated Jews, will launch with a special dramatic production of 10 new plays on June 26 at the Loft at Judson Memorial Church in New York.

PEW-ISH was created following the 2013 release of the Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of Jewish Americans,” which overwhelmingly shows that Jewish Americans feel pride in being Jewish but also underscored a changing Jewish identity.

“When Pew was released, it sparked endless debate inside the organized Jewish world,” said David Shmidt Chapman, a theatre director who initiated the project. “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 June 26 launch event will feature Jewish playwrights, while future PEW-ISH programming will also engage artists working in music, dance, visual art, film and other media. PEW-ISH will work closely with other Jewish arts initiatives, including Asylum Arts and the Jewish Plays Project.

Chapman is a theatre director and writer. His directing work has been seen at Castillo Theatre, 59E59, Joe’s Pub, and in theatres worldwide. He is a member of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, a Drama League alumnus and a Jonathan Alper Fellow at Manhattan Theatre Club. Chapman has worked in theatre on a Fulbright in Hungary and as a Luce Scholar in Vietnam. He is also a member of ROI Community, an international network of Jewish activists and change makers.

Participating playwrights include 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). Additional playwrights include Matthew-Lee Erlbach (“Eager to Lose” at Ars Nova), Ken Weitzman, Emily Chadwick Weiss, Zohar Tirosh-Polk, Warren Hoffman, Jonathan Karpinos and Jacqueline Goldfinger. Actors will include Megan Ketch (CBS’s Blue Bloods), Lynne Rosenberg (“High Maintenance” web series) and Nathaniel P. Claridad (“Here Lies Love” at the Public). Additional casting to be announced. PEW-ISH will be presented in association with Form Theatricals (Anthony Francavilla and Zachary Laks), Judson Arts and Jake Goodman.

PEW-ISH is free and open to the public, RSVP required. For more information and to make a reservation, visit www.pew-ish.org or email pewish.artists@gmail.com.

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.