January 17 – February 1, 2016

This show examines the eternal conundrum of temptation through words and music, and looks at moments in life that are too tempting to resist, and the consequences of taking a bite out of various forbidden fruits.



Topanga Messenger


Curated & Produced by Ronda Spinak
Directed by Susan Morgenstern
Assistant Director Michelle Altman
Dramaturge Lisa Rosenbaum
South Bay Producer Liz Altman
San Francisco Producer Carol Kirsh
Associate Producers Barbara Koletsky, Susie Yuré, Rose Ziff & Patrick Conde

WELCOME  — Ronda Spinak, Artistic Director of JWT


Written and performed by the Ensemble.

The Joy of Politics
Written by Joy Picus.  Performed by Kate Zentall.

Eating the Apple
Written by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat.  Performed by Bill Ratner.

The Story of Rescue – Published in The Longest Date – Life as a Wife (Penguin Books).
Written by Cindy Chupack.  Performed by Abbe Meryl Feder.

In My Father’s House
Written by David Masello.  Performed by Aaron Himelstein and Bill Ratner.

To Fill or Not to Fill
Written by Monique Barry. Performed by Kate Zentall and Ensemble.

The Binge
Written by Shawn Goodman.  Performed by Abbe Meryl Feder and Aaron Himelstein.

The Smoothest Way is Full of Stones – Adapted from How to Breathe Underwater (Alfred A. Knopf)
Written by Julie Orringer.  Performed by Kate Zentall, Matisse Rose, Abby Meryl Feder, Aaron Himelstein and Bill Ratner.

Tempted to Believe – in Memory of Abby Freeman
By Cynthia Freeman.  Performed by Matisse Rose.

Temptations Not Faced by My Great-Grandmother in Szumsk
Written by Susan Terris.  Performed by the Ensemble.


MICHELLE ALTMAN (Assistant Director) graduated from Drake University with a BFA in Theatre/Acting in 2012. Since then she has been performing, writing, and directing in Chicago. Performance credits include Silent Night of the Living Dead, The Cherry Orchard (Charlotta) and Beast Women (Standup/performance art). Directing credits include The Chocolate Affair, Sure Thing, A Smell of Burnt Feathers, Immature (co-writer), When Angels Wept, Everybody Needs a Good Night Out, and The Titus Andronicus Project (co-writer). Thank you to all who support the arts community!
RABBI RACHEL BARENBLAT (Writer)  is the author of three book-length collections of poetry: 70 Faces: Torah Poems (Phoenicia Publishing, 2011), Waiting to Unfold (Phoenicia, 2013), and the forthcoming Open My Lips (Ben Yehuda Press, 2016), as well as several poetry chapbooks. A 2012 Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, she has blogged since 2003 as the Velveteen Rabbi. She was ordained by ALEPH (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) as a rabbi and spiritual director and holds a BA in religion from Williams College and an MFA in writing and literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She serves as co-chair of ALEPH with Rabbi David Evan Markus and is the spiritual leader of a small congregation in western Massachusetts.