Stories from the Fringe

September 8 – 18, 2016

This show offers an inspiring look at the women who are changing the face of Judaism. Poignant and magical as women rabbis are known as never before.


Written by Rabbi Lynne Appel & Ronda Spinak
Directed by Eve Brandstein
Assistant Producer: Barbara Koletsky
Associate Producers: Susie Yuré & Rose Ziff

The play is set today, and yesterday, in real time and in memory.

All words have been culled from transcripts of extensive interviews from 18 Los Angeles women rabbis, and are spoken nearly verbatim by professional actors.

The rabbis portrayed tonight have been divided into three groups, Near-Retirement, Mid-Career and Recently-Ordained. Each actress will play the part of several rabbis within each grouping.

Thank you to the eighteen Los Angeles rabbis who shared their lives with us and invited us into their hearts:

Rabbi Toba August, Rabbi Anne Brener, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe, Rabbi Denise Eger, Rabbi Karen Fox, Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Rabbi Rochelle Kamins, Rabbi Lynne Appel, Rabbi Zoe Klein, Rabbi Susan Laemmle, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Sheryl Lewart, Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh, Rabbi Debra Ornstein, Rabbi Cheryl Peretz, and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut. We are blessed.

Stories From the Fringe: Women Rabbis, Revealed!  is a commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre and was first presented in the At-Homes May Salon, 2010.


RABBI LYNNE (KERN) APPEL (Writer) is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Kansas City Star, the Washington Post, the LA Times and the New York Times. Ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2001, she has served as a congregational rabbi for five and a half years, as well as founding Timbrels Through Torah: A Women’s Institute of Jewish Learning. She is a co-writer of Stories From the Fringe and is the co-founder and co-director of the Story Archive of Women Rabbis, the first video-based archive to capture and share the stories of hundreds of women rabbis worldwide. Rabbi Appel is also a member of CLAL’s fourth cohort of Rabbis Without Borders.
EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director) has made contributions to every facet of the entertainment industry—studio executive, producer, director, writer/creator, talent manager, and author. Eve also has a notable career as a casting director, with credits that include the feature This Is Spinal Tap and television shows Diff’rent Strokes, One Day at a Time, Facts of Life, Who’s the Boss, Beastmaster, and Total Recall. She produced and developed TV’s E/R the Comedy Series; produced and directed the series John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You. She recently reunited with Norman Lear for the New York Times op-doc Not Dead Yet; and is writing two short documentaries for the FIDF.  Recent theater directing credits: the long-running hit Not That Jewish; the NY Off-Broadway two-year hit Shut Up Sit Down & Eat; NY and LA premieres of Revisiting Wildfire; the NY premiere of Voices of Swords; Ronnie Spector’s Beyond the BeehiveWaiting for Jack – A Beat Poetry ReunionClaiming Allen Ginsberg; and Suzanne Wang’s Cracked Open.  Eve has also directed several other programs for Jewish Women’s Theater: Beyond Jacob’s Ladder; Stories from the Fringe; Saffron and Rosewater; Hold Me, Heal Me; He Said, She Said; and Past & Present: Russian Jewish American Stories. She continues to produce the bi-coastal spoken-word event Poetry in Motion, started in 1988.
LISA ROBINS (Actor) stars and tours with The Blessing of a Broken Heart, a one-woman show based on Sherri Mandell’s acclaimed book, directed and adapted by Todd Salovey, which garnished stellar reviews and a warm reception by our JWT community for its LA premier last March. She starred at the Geffen in Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore and was honored to be directed by Paul Mazursky in Michael Elias’ Catskill Sonata. Additional theater credits include Tom Baum’s Shock Therapy and Hal Ackerman’s Testosterone, directed by Michael Arabian; Fallujah (Ovation nomination for best new play); Cornerstone’s Long Bridge Over Deep Waters, directed by Bill Rausch at the Ford; and Center of the Star, by Yehuda Hyman. A lifetime member of the Actors Studio, Lisa recently appeared as the cage-fighting, wise-cracking best friend in Good in Bed, directed by Asaad Kelada, under the supervision of Martin Landau. Film/TV includes The Rum Diary, opposite Johnny Depp; James Dean, directed by Mark Rydell; Henry Jaglom’s Ovation and Hand of God. Lisa is grateful to have appeared in an abundance of JWT salons, and gives thanks to the warm and hard-working Ronda Spinak, and all of her wonderful JWT colleagues. Special thanks to Lisa’s finest work of art, her hardworking, 16-year-old daughter, Renata!
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.
BARBARA KOLETSKY (Assistant Producer/Stage Manager) has most recently worked on the production side of Jewish Women’s Theatre. Prior to that, for three seasons she was responsible for catering.  Now Barbara is thrilled to be moving into stage management for JWT at The Braid.  Barbara is also the owner of RSVP Party Planning, where as an experienced party planner she has produced many events, specializing in charitable organizations but with many corporate and private clients as well. Barbara was born in New York and moved to California for a career in marketing and promotions for Polygram Records and Elektra Atlantic Corp. She regularly volunteers at the Grossman Burn Center with her service dog, Rodney.
RONDA SPINAK (Writer/Producer) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its ninth season. She has curated more than 26 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Ronda’s plays include Stories from the Fringe and festival-winner Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival and Dayton’s FutureFest. She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show Rugrats and authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher). Ronda initiated the project and is the co-director of The Story Archive of Women Rabbis, a collection on film of the stories of women rabbis, now exhibited on the Jewish Women’s Archive. She graduated from Stanford University, and holds degrees from UCLA (MBA) and USC (Masters in professional writing). Ronda is on the board of the Association for Jewish Theatres and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with the many talented and inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre.
ROBERT TREBOR (Actor) had critically acclaimed major roles in John Frankenheimer’s 52 Pick-Up, Oliver Stone’s Talk Radio, Roland Emmerich’s Universal Soldier, and Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. He can be seen in the new Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar!  He is best remembered for playing The Son of Sam opposite Martin Sheen in Out of the Darkness, and Salmoneus on the Hercules and Xena TV series. He began his theatre career in 1973 (with Robin Williams) and more recently won awards for his work in the world premieres of Ravensridge, La Ronde de Lunch, and his one-man show The Return of Brother Theodore. Bob is the author of Dear Salmoneus: The World ‘s First Guide to Love and Money, and And They Pay You for That?? An Actor’s Unreliable Memoir. This latter tome was described by Kirkus as “…hilarious conversations from an actor’s life…his engaging, charming voice creates a story that feels extraordinary.”  Bob is a recipient of a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. If you can, please join the National Bone Marrow Registry; it truly is a mitzvah and a lifesaver. Bob is proud to be an artist-in-residence with JWT.
SUSIE YURÉ (Associate Producer) has volunteered for 30 years in non-profit organizations, in which she has held leadership roles in fundraising, event planning, facilities coordinating, programming, membership, marketing, and administration. Susie has produced musical theatre productions, classical concerts, and cabaret performances and has been intensely involved in the world of theatre for more than 20 years. She holds a BA and MA in elementary education from USC, along with her California lifetime teaching credential. Her favorite role is as mom to her two talented (grown) children, who are both professional (and working) musicians.
KATE ZENTALL (Actor) is proud to be an artist-in-residence at JWT. She has performed in NYC venues including the Public Theater, Guggenheim Museum, and Carnegie Hall. In LA, there’s been lots of Shakespeare, Irish plays, English comedies, and modern dramas, at the Taper and other companies around town, as well as movies and commercials plus a good deal of network TV, from series regular on Studio 5B to a recurring role on Hunter to guest spots on Cheers, Lou Grant, It’s a Living, Becker, LA Law, and many more. In recent years she has been a writer and editor for magazines, books, the internet, and JWT. Kate, who considers herself a recovering actress who’s increasingly lax about falling off the wagon, believes she may be the only LA writer not currently working on a screenplay.
ROSE ZIFF (Associate Producer) came out of retirement to work for JWT after working at UCLA Medical Center for 33 years, where she functioned as “den mother” to more than 1000 interns, residents, and clinical fellows at UCLA, the VA, and Olive View-UCLA Medical Centers, providing resources and support. Rose is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Lev Eisha, a Jewish women’s non-profit religious organization and spiritual community. Her hobbies include gardening, dog training and hosting a monthly book club.

Stories from the Fringe at Museum of Tolerance

January 22 & 23, 2011


Written by Rabbi Lynne A. Kern & Ronda Spinak
Directed by Eve Brandstein
Produced by Ronda Spinak, Rabbi Lynne A. Kern & Eve Brandstein

Caroline Aaron, Shira Fox, Abby Freeman, Bari Hochwald, Laraine Newman, Robert Trebor & Kate Zentall

Co-Produced by Andrea Wagner
Production Stage Manager Hillary Kern
Associate Producer Kate Schlesinger
Casting Director Ronnie Yeskel

Stories From the Fringe: Women Rabbis, Revealed! is a commission of Jewish Women’s Theatre and was first presented in the At-Homes May Salon, 2010.

About The Show

The play is set today, and yesterday, in real time and in memory. All words have been culled from transcripts of extensive interviews from 18 Los Angeles women rabbis, and are spoken nearly verbatim.

Thank you to the eighteen Los Angeles rabbis who shared their lives with us and invited us into their hearts:

Rabbi Toba August, Rabbi Anne Brener, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe, Rabbi Denise Eger, Rabbi Karen Fox, Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, Rabbi Rochelle Kamins, Rabbi Lynne A. Kern, Rabbi Zoe Klein, Rabbi Susan Laemmle, Rabbi Naomi Levy, Rabbi Sheryl Lewart, Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh, Rabbi Debra Ornstein, Rabbi Cheryl Peretz, and Rabbi Elianna Yolkut. We are blessed.


CAROLINE AARON (Actor—Rabbis Near-Retirement) is an accomplished actor in film, television and stage. Directors such as Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Nora Ephron, Paul Mazursky, Don Roos, and many others keep her in demand. Her work with Nichols includes: on Broadway in Social Security, and in films such as Heartburn (opposite Meryl Streep), Working Girl, Primary Colors, and What Planet Are You From? Film audiences perhaps best know her as Woody Allen’s sister in “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, but she has worked with Allen in Alice, Bullets Over Broadway, Husbands and Wives, and Deconstructing Harry. She has guest starred on Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, Shark, Sex and The City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Six Feet Under, among others. She is the recipient of a Helen Hayes and Dramalogue Award.
EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director/Producer), one of Hollywood’s most prodigious workers, has made contributions to nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. She has been a major studio executive, a producer, a director, writer/creator, casting director, talent manager and author. Brandstein was casting executive for Norman Lear’s production companies. Some of her credits for casting over two decades include, Diff’rent Strokes, One Day At A Time, Facts of Life and Who’s The Boss. She is producing and directing two documentaries – The Girl In the Room, stories from women in the comedy world and Maybe You’ll Find Something There, a Second Generation Holocaust Survivor’s journey back to her family’s life in the Carpathian Mountains. She also is producing Poetry In Motion: LA Monthly at Beyond Baroque and the Beat Era poetry theater show, Waiting For Jack. Eve is a poet, journalist, artist, licensed psychotherapist and a proud board member of Jewish Women’s Theater.
SHIRA FOX (Vocals) is the daughter of two Los Angeles cantors. Shira has served as Cantor of Temple Rodeph Shalom and at Temple Beth El. Her theatrical credits include lead roles in Lil Abner and Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She is an alumnus of Brandeis University, and currently acts as B’nai Mitzvah Teacher and Program Coordinator at Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation.
ABBY FREEMAN (Actor—Rabbis Recently-Ordained) received her BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is a co-founder of AiRealistic, an aerial theatre company. She has choreographed and performed in New York and Los Angeles, as well as many international cities. She created original work for clients including The LA Philharmonic, Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, and Red Bull. Most recently, she performed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 LA Philharmonic Gala. She has completed the first year of her MBA at the Anderson School of Management and plans on continuing to work in Arts Management.
BARI HOCHWALD (Actor— Rabbis Mid-Career) Ms. Hochwald received her BFA in acting from Syracuse University and completed graduate studies at the American Repertory Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. She appeared in regional theaters throughout the country. Ms. Hochwald has worked in the development of over 50 new plays as actress and director, and was nominated and awarded for her performances with The Drama Critics Circle Award, The Garland Awards, the Maddy Awards and the L.A. Weekly Awards. Ms. Hochwald has guest starred on many television productions such as C.S.I and Desperate Housewives. In Italy she founded Florence International Theatre Company, which she ran for 4 seasons in Florence, Italy. She is currently President and Artistic Director of The Global Theatre Project. Her latest directing project, The Men of Mah Jongg just closed at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills.
RABBI LYNNE A. KERN (Playwright/Producer) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, poet and writer whose work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies worldwide. She teaches classes for women in synagogues and is currently working on a Jewish Memoir. As a pulpit rabbi, she created innovative women’s programming focused on excavating the women’s voice in Torah, and the creation of ritual and spiritual writing. Currently, she is working on a documentary about women rabbis. She is also a Founding Board Member of the Jewish Women’s Theatre.
STEPHEN MACHT (Actor, All Male Roles) Trained professionally at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, a graduate of Dartmouth College, a Ph.D. in Dramatic Literature from Indiana University and during his teaching days, a tenured Associate Professor, Stephen is one of the best-educated working actors in America today. He has played leading men in plays and dozens of television movies and feature films, RAID ON ENTEBBE, GRAVEYARD SHIFT, THE IMMIGRANTS to name a few. On t.v. he was Sharon Gless’ love interest in CAGNEY AND LACEY and has recurred on BOSTON PUBLIC, JACK AND JILL and BOOMTOWN. Soap Opera Digest nominated Stephen “2007 Villain of The Year.” On stage, he starred opposite Charlton Heston in a “Man for All Seasons” and “Cain Mutiny Court Martial,” and last year Stephen starred opposite Sharon Gless in a new play entitled “A Round Heeled Woman,” about the novelist, Jane Juska’s late-life adventures in sex and romance! Stephen and his wife, Suzanne, have four children as well as eight grandchildren and counting. His philanthropic work includes The Parkinson’s Resource Organization, The Jewish National Fund, and The Center For Jewish Culture and Creativity. He is a second year chaplaincy student at the Academy for the Jewish Religion in Los Angeles, Ca., and hopefully, he will continue daily to fulfill as many of the 613 mitzvoth as possible! Appearing in STORIES FROM THE FRINGE is certainly one of them.
LARAINE NEWMAN (Actor—Rabbis Near-Retirement) is a native of Los Angeles and began her career at the age of 15 as part of an improv group hired to perform in the parks of South Central LA. She went on to study mime with Marcel Marceau in Paris and, at the age of 19, appeared in the New Theatre For Now at the Mark Taper. Laraine and her sister, Tracy, were among the founding members of The Groundlings. In 1973 she appeared in a Lily Tomlin special produced by Lorne Michaels, who later hired her to be in the first cast of Saturday Night Live. Laraine has worked for directors ranging from Woody Allan to Rob Zombie. Her more notable movie roles have been Problem Child 2, Stardust Memories, American Hot Wax and Perfect. Laraine’s most recent Television appearances include: Entourage, Brothers and Sisters, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Friends, According to Jim, and 7th Heaven. Laraine has enjoyed a thriving animation career and can be heard in such current series as: Metalocalypse, Fairly Odd Parents, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Batman and Superman. Her animated features include: Toy Story 3, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, Up, Wall-E, Cars, Monsters Inc. and Horton Hears A Who. She has written for the LA Times Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Believer, McSweeney’s, Esquire and is a contributing editor for Oneforthetable; an online food magazine. Laraine lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 21 years and her two teenage daughters.