Strengthening Jerusalem’s Women & a HIDDEN Jewish Heritage

Published October 4, 2018

“HIDDEN – The Secret Jews of Spain”, an epic historical musical about a courageous converso family trying to preserve its faith during the terror of the Spanish Inquisition, is spreading its dazzle and vitality to the already energized OU Israel Center this season. Two evenings a week, dancers and singers of every age and background rehearse on every floor of the OU and in the stairwells too, in preparation for the November production at the IASA Theatre in Jerusalem. Music fills the OU, along with the feeling of community, warmth and friendship, and a zing of excitement.

This bi-product of rehearsals was the reason the WPC Jerusalem teamed up with OU Israel almost three ago. Their goal was to empower a women’s community in the center of Jerusalem with love of performance as their common language. Your help is needed to continue this project. Please give today: https://www.ouisrael.org/donate-hidden-musical

The WPC began its activities at the OU Israel Center with monthly events that would create friendships and spread light during a wave of violence and terror in Jerusalem. They soon understood that the participating women wanted the community and harmony to continue onward. In addition to organizing their monthly performance-oriented programs at the OU, the WPC mounted a full-scale production, “COUNT THE STARS” by Sharon Katz and Avital Macales.

The duo, who are also two of the creators of the WPC Jerusalem, along with Shifra C. Penkower and Bati Katz, have now co-authored and co-composed a new production, “HIDDEN – The Secret Jews of Spain”. Based on the popular classic, The Family Aguilar, with permission by Feldheim Publisher, “HIDDEN” breathes new life into this beloved story of crypto-Jews.

The entire Jewish world has been affected by 500 years of Spain’s Holy Terror. Confronted by the grave choices of conversion, expulsion or death, half the Jewish population of Spain (300,000) converted to Catholicism. The other half (300,000) escaped if they could. The number of Jews who died by the sword, by torture, by fire is unknown and unbelievable. Over time, conversos either abandoned their faith or tried to observe what they could secretly. Today 100 million people throughout the world claim to be descendants of those anousim (forced ones).

Through music and dance and the drama you’d expect to find in 1700s Spain, “HIDDEN” propels audiences through a mysterious medieval world where enemies are anywhere and trusted friends are treasured and kept undercover. In a breathless rush of cliffhangers, the Aguilar Family endures capture/escape/discovery/flight.

HISTORY STARS IN “HIDDEN”

History is the star of “HIDDEN” and several main characters typify the fate of the Jewish people during those fierce and frightening centuries in Spain. Avital Macales, the most popular performer in Israel’s women’s theater today, plays the meteorically-rising priest, the Inquisitor of Madrid, who suddenly discovers his heretical Jewish family is alive and condemned in his own prison.

Batya Shachar portrays the priest’s father who eloquently professes his faith, as he determines to save his family. Shira Chana Bienstock is the wise unheeded mother who alone understands the dangers of life in Spain. Macales’ co-author/co-producer Sharon Katz is the aged rabbi, disguised as a butler, who passes on whatever Jewish knowledge he still possesses, no matter how confused or comical.

As in “Count the Stars,” the production is directed by Shifra Penkower, choreographed by Judy Kizer with musical direction and arrangements by noted choral director Ellen Macales. Amit Ben Atar once again created the musical arrangements and Bati Katz returns as both a principal dancer and associate production.

Tickets are on sale now at http://wpcjerusalem.wixsite.com/wpcjerusalem/tickets  More info: 052-421-3600.

To continue on the WPC Jerusalem and “HIDDEN” adventures, visit wpcjerusalem.wixsite.com/wpcjerusalem, or https://www.facebook.com/wpcjerusalem. Profits from “HIDDEN” go to tzedakah through a special OU Shiddach Project and to continue the valuable programs of the Women’s Performance Community of Jerusalem. wpc.jerusalem@gmail.com