Saturday, July 18, 2015

Memories, Senior Citizens "Playback"

Last week, a local female drama group performed an interesting  and moving Playback performance inspired by our senior citizens here in Shiloh.

Playback is a form of improvisation performance based on stories from the audience. For the past few years there have been twice-weekly senior citizens activities here. They are usually for men and women, but this one was "ladies only."

A few of the women took turns telling us something that happened to them when they were young. And then the actresses acted out the event, mostly pantomime accompanied by music.

One woman told of a frightening trip from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea by her and her friends before the establishment of the State of Israel.  The only vehicle and driver they could find to take them was Arab. They arrived to the Dead Sea safely, but on the way back the driver kept stopping and demanding more and more money. He'd stop the vehicle and make them get out. To pretend they weren't afraid, they sang and danced. Finally they'd give him a bit more money knowing that if they paid everything before arriving back safely, he'd kill them or leave them stranded. Not only was this decades before cellphones were even dreamt of, but few Israelis even had phones at home. And of course they didn't pass any public phones on the long deserted roads between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

Suddenly a Jew showed up on a motorcycle and threatened the Arab. Due to this mysterious Jew and his periodic arrivals and threats the Arab brought them back to Jerusalem. My elderly neighbor said that she and her friends were/are convinced that Eliyahu Hanavi, Elijah the Prophet himself had come to their rescue, because they never succeeded in finding out the identity of the man who saved them.

Each story we heard was special and very moving. One told of why it ended up taking her forty years to live her dream and make aliyah. Another told of how her family fled from a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that was very vulnerable to attack by Arab terrorists and how they survived. And one of the most moving was by a neighbor whose younger sister was kidnapped on the way to Israel from Yemen and the effect it had on her family.

I had been asked to be one of the translators. Besides native Israelis and other Hebrew speakers, our "golden agers" are from France, the former USSR and a number of English speaking countries. So almost every activity needs translation.

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