Last week, at the generous invitation of Ometz, we got to attend “My Name is Asher Lev”, a play depicting the struggles of a hasidic man, who is passionate about painting. Based on the book by Chaim Potok, it is an exploration about balancing the main character’s own desires with the expectations of his parents and community.
So, as you can imagine, we were excited about attending.
We thought it would be interesting to get feedback from some of our members who had seen the play.
I thought it depicted the religious family dynamics very authentically, especially the tension between father and son by having such different viewpoints on life and art. The play really gave me a feel of what it was like for the artist to be unable to tear away from Judaism, yet equally unable to tear himself from expressing his art that was screaming to get out of him.
I liked the fact that although he left the religion and broke out from his family’s view on religion he still dealt with his past and created his own path.
Meaning he tried to combine and put together the advantages of religion and try and make it a contribution to his life and career.
It’s interesting that he remains observant. It showed the struggle along only one line (painting) which I thought was different than reality for many who’ve had to struggle with expectations and self. The struggle is on so many different lines.
It also felt that the struggle was less about religion and more about culture. There’s a subtle difference. But throughout, the great transgression was that he shamed the community, not his lack of religious beliefs.
The play was particularly interesting to me in its expressions of the tensions and possible negotiations between the religious experience and the individual identity and artistic inclinations. In the bigger picture, it is a very profound and accurate illustration of what is possible or not for the individual trying to be theirself and to simultaneously live within the plurality of thought systems in the world and life.
The play runs until October 2nd. Go see it if you can.
We’d love to hear what you thought of it in the comments.
And yes. We all thought it was an excellent play.