Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks

March 18-28, 2017

A Jewish immigrant story that is rarely told on stage. Until now.  The Sephardic legacy of family, community, and country, looking for home more than 500 years after the expulsion from Spain.




Adapted & Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Susan Morgenstern South Bay Producer Liz Altman
Bay Area Producer Carol Kirsh
Assistant Directed by Michelle Altman
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum
Literary Manager Suzanna Kaplan
Assistant Producer Barbara Koletsky
Associate Producers Susie Yuré & Rose Ziff

Underwritten by the Maurice Amado Foundation

Ocho Kandelikas
Music and Lyrics by Flory Jagoda. Performed by AJ Meijer.

Ways to Recognize a ‘Sephardic Jew-ess’ – adapted from
The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature (Schocken Books, 2005). Written by Ruth Knafo Setton.
Performed by Lisa Cirincione & AJ Meijer.

Living Between the Question Marks #1
Written by Ruth Knafo Setton. Performed by Abbe Meryl Feder.

The Last Seder – adapted from The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature (Schocken Books, 2005).
Written by André Aciman. Performed by AJ Meijer.

Becoming American – adapted from an interview by Ronda Spinak.
Written by Gladys Moreau. Performed by Wendy Colman Levin, AJ Meijer, & Abbe Meryl Feder.

Assembled from the internet. Performed by the ensemble.

A Sephardi Air – adapted from Traveling Heavy (Duke University Press, 2013).
Written by Ruth Behar. Performed by Abbe Meryl Feder & AJ Meijer.

Nameless Daughter – adapted from Sephardic-American Voices (Brandeis University Press, 1997).
Written by Ruth Behar. Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

Adio Querida
Traditional Ladino Song. Performed by Lisa Cirincione & AJ Meijer.

The Magic of Mimouna – adapted from Don’t Get Me Started (Jewish Journal Books, 2011).
Written by David Suissa. Performed by AJ Meijer.

Written by Ruth Knafo Setton. Performed by Wendy Colman Levin & AJ Meijer.

Return to India
Written by Rahel Musleah. Performed by Lisa Cirincione, Wendy Colman Levin, & Abbe Meryl Feder.

Both Jewish and Arabic – adapted from Sephardic-American Voices (Brandeis University Press, 1997).
Written by Herb Hadad. Performed by AJ Meijer & Lisa Cirincione,

Written by Lisa Klug. Performed by Abbe Meryl Feder.

My Cathartic Sephardic Song
Written by Betty Goldstein. Performed by Wendy Colman Levin & ensemble.

Temporarily Lost in Translation
Written by Lisa Klug. Performed by Lisa Cirincione.

Living Between the Question Marks #2
Written by Ruth Knafo Setton. Performed by the ensemble.


ANDRÉ ACIMAN (Writer) teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and is the director of both the Center for the Humanities and the Writers’ Institute. He is the author of Out of Egypt: A Memoir; False Papers; Alibis; and four novels: Call Me by Your Name, Eight White Nights, Harvard Square, and Enigma Variations. He is the coauthor and editor of Letters of Transit and of The Proust Project and the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. A contributor to The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The New York Review of Books, he has also appeared in several volumes of Best American Essays. His forthcoming essay collection is entitled Homo Irrealis.

MICHELLE ALTMAN (Assistant Director) grew up in the South Bay, then moved to the Midwest, and graduated from Drake University with a BFA in theatre/acting with a concentration in directing. She then moved to Chicago to pursue her career in theatre before coming back to LA to work with JWT. Directing credits include The Chocolate AffairSure ThingA Smell of Burnt FeathersImmature (co-writer), When Angels WeptEverybody Needs a Good Night OutThe Titus Andronicus Project(co-writer/producer), Fishbowl: A Dramatic Improv. JWT credits include Fried Chicken & Latkes (Tech Director/Stage Manager), Temptation, Matzo Ball Diaries, and Exile: Kisses on Both Cheeks (Assistant Director).  Thank you to all who support the arts community!

RUTH BEHAR (Writer) is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellows “Genius” Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A traveler, storyteller, poet, educator, and public speaker, her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village, Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. She is the editor of the pioneering anthology, Bridges to Cuba and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her documentary, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, distributed by Women Make Movies, has been shown in festivals around the world. Her poetry is included in many collections, among them The Whole Island: Six Decades of Cuban Poetry and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Her debut novel for young readers, Lucky Broken Girl, the story of a Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl, is forthcoming with Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House in April, 2017. For more information, https://www.ruthbehar.com/.

LISA CIRINCIONE (Actor) was recently cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming project Distant Vision.  She currently stars in and produced the short film Porcupine, which made its World Premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival and has now played at nine film festivals around the globe, including the Napa Valley Film Festival and The San Antonio Film Festival. Lisa recently shot an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! with NBA Legend, Mr. Ron Artest, and can be seen in national commercials including a spot for Sky Italia with Sandra Oh, and in the comedy web-series, Mrs. Gary, for which she won Best Supporting Actress at The Los Angeles Web Festival. Lisa received LA WEEKLY and LA Drama Critic’s Circle nominations for the role of Catherine in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge at Pacific Resident Theatre.  Lisa is extremely proud to be an Artist in Residence with JWT and deeply thanks Ronda and the rest of the team for this continued opportunity to tell such powerful stories.

ABBE MERYL FEDER (Actor) hails from the fabulous city of New York. When not pursuing her craft, Abbe is the proud Producer of NEXT @ The Braid, a brand-new program of Jewish Women’s Theater, which invites the next generation of artists to share their voice. She also shares her love of style as a stylist for Stella & Dot. Her film and tv credits include Sex Ed (film), Brahmin Bulls (film), The Internet Date (film), Pushing Daisies (tv), CSI:NY (tv). Twitter and Instagram: @iAMFeder.

BETTY GOLDSTEIN (Writer) is well known in the storytelling circuit in Los Angeles and New York.  She is published in Reader’s Digest’s The Best Life Stories and in What Was I Thinking? 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories.  Betty blogs on Huffington Post and is a Moth winner.  Her work has been produced by Jewish Women’s Theatre, and she performs her original ghost stories for KCRW’s annual Masquerade Ball and Ghosts of the Internet.

HERBERT HADAD (Writer) is an award-winning freelance writer, who has specialized on topics of family and the Middle East.  He is the author of Finding Immortality: The Making of One American Family, and is at work on a new collection of essays, some new, some published in The New York Times, including Both Jewish and Arabic. His essays have appeared in The International Herald Tribune, Parenting, Reader’s Digest, Poets & Writers and others. He worked as a reporter for The Times, New York Post, Boston Globe and Keene (N.H.) Sentinel. He also served in New York as a press officer for the U.S. Department of Justice and currently teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY. He has won writing awards from the New York Press Club, Council or the Advancement and Support of Education, Folio magazine and others.  Hadad is married to the former Evelyn Meekins. They have three children and live in Pocantico Hills, New York.