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Study at The Shalem Center in 2008! The Shalem Center, Jerusalem Founded in 1994, The Shalem Center in Jerusalem is a research and educational institute devoted to the study of Jewish thought and Israeli public policy.

drama therapist, sees a divine source. “Hashem [God] has infused in us boundless creativity with infinite possibilities: how to build a story, how to respond in an instant. There is so much potential in a split moment, and Judaism harnesses that moment.” Just like spiritual development, Yasgur notes, improv requires practice, focus, and study. Improvodox’s Marc Spear, 33, who runs Riverdale Improv (, notes that “Judaism is unlike many religions” in that it involves “a lot of ritual and active learning techniques. People learn the messages better because they have done it and feel it viscerally.” Team member Elli (a.k.a. Elli the King of Broadway), a rabbi and educator, notes that there’s “improvising in everything. Even with students who seem unmanageable [improv games] bring a whole new dimension to the classroom.” Fox, 36, feels so strongly about improv’s educational power that he founded Judaism On Both Feet, which uses improvisational theater techniques to internalize Jewish values with the aim of improving communication, enhancing relationships, and developing leadership skills. “On a very basic level, if we’re in a scene together, we support each other. I have to take care of myself and other people at the same time. As Hillel said, ’If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?’ That’s the basis of improv—the balance of taking care of yourself and others.” “There are a number of parallels between what one learns in religious school and improv classes,” the Chicago-based Freimuth observes. “Sometimes you interpret words literally, and other times, you twist [them] ever so slightly to produce an unexpected result.” Similar skills are used in studying religious texts, he says. “Seriously, could anyone have expected ’don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk’ to become a ban on cheeseburgers?”

More information, including application forms is available online Application deadline has been extended to: February 29, 2008

in the moment: jewish improvisers living in the now Yasgur further connects improv with “spiritual receptiveness.” “When an audience offers a suggestion, improvisers must quickly accept. In a way, religion also requires an element of blind acceptance. Even if you don’t always understand an aspect of halakhah (Jewish law), at times it’s important to accept it. Not that you can’t research it after the show, but sometimes the moment requires you to build blindly but confidently.” One of The Hebrew School Dropouts’ co-founders, Kimberly Rae Miller, 25, points out that their show is set in a classroom, and players ask the audience for a suggestion of something they’d learn in Hebrew school. “We introduce the [improvisation] by asking the audience about various topics like Israel or lashon harah (gossip),” says twentysomething Michelle Slonim, another of the group’s founders. “Sometimes audience members share a funny anecdote or tell their own experiences. Regardless, it gets people thinking about Jewish topics and sharing those experiences with others.” “Improv, at its core, is about living in the now,” says Freimuth. “Rather than being motivated by an eternal punishment or reward yet to come, the Jewish improv player focuses on what just occurred and responds to it appropriately, for the sake of doing what’s right, right now.” And by supporting the other players on stage, you “create something beautiful and, hopefully, funny.”

For more information please contact:

Esther D. Kustanowitz, senior editor of PresenTense Magazine, has been improvising

Tanya Cawthorne, Campus Affairs Coordinator Tel. 972 (2) 560-5516 Fax: 972 (2) 560-5907 E-mail: issue four 2008

for nearly a decade. Read into that what you will. You can find more of her work at

Summer internship program (June 22 – August 14, 2008) The Shalem Center will accept outstanding undergraduates and recent graduates for an eight-week summer program at the center. The program provides a unique opportunity to combine intellectual study with practical work experience in a variety of departments at a leading Israeli research institute. Graduate fellowship program (October 2008 – June 2009) Applications are invited from students in the fields of history, philosophy, political science, archaeology, International and Middle East studies, economics, religion, cultural studies, Bible, Talmud, Jewish history and philosophy, Zionist history and related disciplines. How to apply reviews

PresenTense Issue 4  

PresenTense 4 brings Social back

PresenTense Issue 4  

PresenTense 4 brings Social back