by Brenda Goldstein
Robin Saex Garbose truly did a kiddush Hashem by breathing life into Kol Neshama, a summer performing arts conservatory in Los Angeles of which she is artistic director. The acting-singing-dancing troupe of approximately 25 schoolgirls from all over the country performed on August 28-30 at the Ivar Theater in Hollywood. This year’s production was titled “Heaven Sent: An Evening of Miracle Plays with Dance and Song”, which included four plays highlighting the miracles we observe in everyday life.
In the beginning of the program for “Heaven Sent”, Saex Garbose outlines the purpose for Kol Neshama’s creation. “It says in the Talmud,” she explains, “that the woman was given 90 percent of the faculty of speech…When women are engaged in holy discourse, they can transform and elevate all those who hear their words…Through fusing Jewish spirituality and religious observance with artistic excellence, we can be a light unto the world…”
On a somber note, Saex writes in the program that Kol Neshama has dedicated “Heaven Sent” to the memory of Shoshana Greenbaum and her unborn child, who were murdered in the pizza shop bomb in Jerusalem a few weeks ago. Greenbaum’s mourning parents, Alan and Shifra Hayman, live in Los Angeles.
Of the show’s four “miracle plays”, the sequence “Thunder and Lightning” ranks as the tearjerker. Based on a story told to Saex Garbose, “Thunder and Lightning” follows the heart-rending tale of a girl, Sarah, who loses her beloved little sister, Hannah, during the Holocaust. From that point on, Sarah can’t bear the sound of thunder and lightning until, years later, the neshama [soul] of Hannah comes to her and tells her that she doesn’t need to be afraid of that sound anymore. Shaindy Holtzman does an excellent job as the rocking-chair narrator of this very stirring story.
Kol Neshama’s “mission statement”, if you will, is “giving creative expression to the voice of the soul…” as it says on the program. We need to keep in touch with those voices, and Kol Neshama helps us to connect our voices with all K’lal Yisrael—especially now, when we really need to stand together as one.