The renaissance rebbetzin

Devorah Green produced plays in an environment tailored to religious women.

devorah green harp 298.8 (photo credit: Nicola Graham)
devorah green harp 298.8
(photo credit: Nicola Graham)
"People call me the 'Energizer Rebbetzin,'" says Devorah Green as she fishes a zebra print covered mobile phone out of her bag. "You know, like that little pink bunny in the commercials." With her chaotic schedule, her multi-faceted background and unique range of talents, one can see how Green earned the moniker. The wife of the Rosh Yeshiva of Birkas HaTorah in the Old City, Green has developed a reputation of her own. Five years ago, she began to produce plays in an environment tailored to religious women, many of whom consider it immodest to perform and especially sing in front of a mixed gender audience. "Several years ago I went to see a women-only play and was left astounded," she recalls of her first exposure to women's theater. "I caught the bug and was dying to get involved. I called the [theater group] offering help. I was willing to do anything to get involved, but the group wouldn't take new members." Not to be defeated, Green decided to put on her own play for women. "I had absolutely no experience in theater but somehow I managed to write, produce and direct this play...I put out about 20 chairs in the hall and over 70 people turned up that night. I couldn't believe it - needless to say we needed more chairs!" The response to Green's work was overwhelming. "The reaction was incredible...everyone wanted to get involved," she recalls. There was demand for another play, and five years on, her shows have become something of an annual event. "These plays give religious women a stage for expression," explains Green. "Its entertainment in a kosher environment." Raised in Brooklyn in a secular family, Green never imagined she'd one day end up married to a rabbi and living in the Old City. "My parents were children of the Holocaust era. They were in hiding throughout the war and never had the chance to get a Jewish education." Before making aliya, Green acquired two degrees (in economics and education), three years of veterinary schooling, and experience as a commodity trader at the World Trade Center. With six languages under her belt, the rebbetzin can also dance ballet and tap, and play the piano and harp. With all her interests, not to mention five children and six grandchildren, it's impressive that there was room for theater in her life. "Yes," she admits, "I have done a lot, but I am not egotistical, and I don't take anything for granted. I am just thankful for the tremendous amount of energy I have been blessed with, and I truly believe life is to be lived. I can't just sit and watch my life pass by." This year's play, "Silent Stories," documents the true Holocaust survival stories of the Rebbetzin's own mother, grandmother and aunt. "It's important that people don't think this is going to be a depressing play to watch. I want it to be inspiring and is even humorous in parts with all kinds of music and dancing. The audiences can expect a fun and meaningful experience, with a surprise ending - I love adding a twist." As for her next theater project, Green is already brainstorming. "Every year I tell myself this is the last one, but somehow I always end up doing another. I just can't say no, especially with so much support and encouragement." "Silent Stories" will be showing at the Gerard Bechar Theater on the June 13 and 14. Ticket prices range from NIS 60-100. Call 02-627-5445 or 054808-4746 to purchase.