July 3, 1982
Sponsored by Tel Aviv University’s Department of Theater along with the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Kinneret Foundation, the First International Conference and Festival of Jewish Theater opened on July 3, 1982. Consisting of twenty individual theatrical works, four workshops and a series of films, seminars and lectures, the festival and conference attracted actors, writers and directors from all over the world. The festival coincided with the beginning of the 1982 war in Lebanon (June 6, 1982) and was almost cancelled because many Israeli participants were called up for reserve duty, and there was a subsequent German boycott of the festival. However, at the last minute, festival organizers decided to continue as planned.
As the conference occurred at a turbulent moment in Israel’s history, many important and difficult themes were touched on during the five-day event. Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai read numerous anti-war poems, sparking lively dialogue, and highlighting the vast range of opinion that exists in Israeli society. Themes of Jewish identity and experience in the modern world were also touched upon, leading to dialogue about ethics and representations of Judaism in both Israeli and American theater.
Submissions for the festival’s theatrical productions came from all over the world. The twenty productions that were selected showcased a diverse talent pool within Jewish theater, with titles including “James Joyce and the Israelites,” “Imagining the Other (They),” and “The Journey of the Year.”
The photo shows Michal Govrin, one of the Festival of Jewish Theater’s featured directors and the writer of “The Journey of the Year.”