Home Made Theater hosting limited run of “New Jerusalem”

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SARATOGA SPRINGS — “New Jerusalem,” Home Made Theater’s limited-run production about the real-life Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, will be performed twice at Saratoga Springs’ Congregation Shaara Tfille on Sunday, July 25, and twice at Clifton Park’s Congregation Beth Shalom on Sunday, Aug. 1. The production will also be streamed on a date to be determined.

Directed by Dianne O’Neill, Home Made Theater’s seven-member cast features Saratoga Springs’ Jonathan Hefter as Spinoza. Rounding out the cast are Max Beyer of Albany; Saratoga Springs’ Devra Cohen-Tigor; Saratoga Springs’ Christina DiCarlo; Troy’s George Filieau; Doug Gladstone of Wilton; and Gary Maggio of Albany.

Written by playwright David Ives, “New Jerusalem” is based on actual events that occurred at Talmud Torah Congregation on July 27, 1656.  The show won the 2008 Hull-Warriner Award from the Dramatists Guild of America, an award that is unique in that it is conferred on playwrights by other playwrights.

The play, according to a L.A. Theatre Works write-up, “follows Spinoza as he faces excommunication from the Jewish community for his provocative, subversive new ideas. Often called the ‘absolute philosopher’ of the 17th century, Spinoza was a passionate advocate of rationalism, the idea that [one’s] intellect is superior to [one’s] senses. A Portuguese Jew living in Amsterdam, Spinoza’s allegedly atheist beliefs not only shocked the Jewish community, but jeopardized their comfortable relationship with the surrounding Dutch society.” When Spinoza is given the opportunity to defend himself in front of a room full of critics, the result “is a courtroom clash between religion and rationalism.”

This production is a collaboration of Home Made Theater and the Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival. Proceeds from the production will benefit Home Made Theater, Congregation Shaara Tfille, Congregation Beth Shalom and Temple Sinai. It is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York.

Congregation Shaara Tfille is located at 84 Weibel Avenue in Saratoga Springs; Congregation Beth Shalom is located at 688 Clifton Park Center Road.

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