Jacob Hellman, 21, Baltimore, MD
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, BA Theatre/Dramaturgy
Placement: Center Stage Theater-Merkaz Hamag'shimim Hadassah The Merkaz
The Merkaz Center is a multipurpose community center that supports Zionism, Jewish pluralism, and social activism. The Merkaz offers varieties of programs to tourists and olim. It is a place where people can feel at home when far from it. The Center Stage Theater gives olim a chance to express their artistic selves and experiment with art in their own language. This center, sponsored by Young Judaea creates an international artist community in the inspiring city of Jerusalem. Learn more Center Stage Theater
What were you doing before you came to Israel?
I had just graduated college and had spent a month in Ecuador with Dramatic Adventure Theatre, touring, building a community center, learning Andean mask dancing, and working with children and creating an original piece of theater that we performed in NYC Off-Off-Broadway upon return to the USA. Unfortunately, I was not accepted by any theater internship I applied for, so I decided to take the study abroad I never got to have and come to Israel to learn and do theatre.
How did you hear about this WUJS Israel program?
Fliers, brochures, emails, and a campus MASA liaison; it also helped that a really good friend of mine did the program last year and had a great time. Find out more @ Masa
What do you hope to get out of this program?
I hope to see more of Israel, learn more Hebrew, make friends, and build up my theatre resume.
What are your responsibilities as an intern?
I'm the general theatre intern, doing pretty much anything that needs to be done around the theater as well as dramaturging (researching) the shows, performing in them, doing tech., and working on writing some plays of my own.
What theatre performances will you take part in?
October (date TBA) - Spontaneous Combustion. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. A 48-hour play festival that I'll be writing for. In English. Tickets are 20 NIS, 30 NIS for a free beer and a door-prize raffle ticket. Minyan discount - bring 9 friends and get in free!
November (dates TBA) - The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem A hilarious play considered to be one of Shakespeare's greatest comedic successes. In English. Featuring WUJS Jerusalem participants Jacob Hellman and Daniel Minahim Silva.
December - an original play by Jacob Hellman. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. In English
January/February - The Chosen, by Chaim Potok. A theatrical adaptation of the literary classic. At Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Germany Colony, Jerusalem. In English.
Have you had any difficulties settling in?
So far, I've done pretty well. It was hard to buy laundry detergent, because the containers for detergent are very similar to fabric softener. I also think I might have bought dish soap instead of hand soap...but soap is soap, right? It cleans, it does the job. I have a pretty good sense of direction (and a handheld GPS) and other than getting turned around in the tinier streets and alleyways of Jerusalem, I have not gotten seriously lost.
What did your friends say when you told them your plan to come to Israel?
I found out I was accepted into the program via email at a hostel at 11 PM on my first night in Quito, Ecuador (for the DAT trip), after traveling for almost 24 hours. I jumped for joy and immediately ran upstairs to tell the other program participants, who were impressed and wished me luck. Other friends, family members, and synagogue members wished me luck and told me to be safe.