All of us have a part of ourselves that we cover up – a part of our bodies, our personalities, or our very identities.  But there are times when the hidden part of ourselves is suddenly and dramatically revealed.  Dive into these moments in true Jewish stories of hilarity, hurt, and the uncovering of who we truly are inside.

A new salon show created by our NEXT emerging artist fellows!

June 16-26, 2022




Artistic Director RONDA SPINAK • Producing Director SUSAN MORGENSTERN Managing Director SHARON LANDAU

Written by Jan Berlfein Burns. Performed by Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff.

You Found Doris!
Written by Ariella Blum-Lemberg. Performed by Avita Broukhim and Marshall Bennett.

Dipping My Toes
Written by Barbara Kroll. Performed by Heidi Mendez, Avita Broukhim, and Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff.

You Do You
Music and Lyrics by Kat Zimmerman and Makena Metz. Performed by Avita Broukhim.

L’Dor V’Dor
Written by Liz Altman. Performed by Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff.

A Natural Ally
Written by Written by David Chiu. Performed by Marshall Bennett and Heidi Mendez.

A Revealing Shabbat
Written by Daphna Shull. Performed by Avita Broukhim.

Written by Abbe Meryl Feder. Performed by Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff and Heidi Mendez.

Written by Janis Nelson. Performed by Heidi Mendez.

My Dad and Our Dog
Written by Paulette Benson. Performed by Marshall Bennett.

Fake Jew
Written by Makena Metz. Performed by Avita Broukhim and Ronit Gilbert-Aranoff.

Do You Like My Hat?
Written by Katherine Koller. Performed by Heidi Mendez.



LIZ ALTMAN (Writer) wrote “Almost a Sacrifice,” previously performed at the Braid salon Unknown Stories of Biblical Proportions. Other credits include song lyrics for activities at the University of Michigan and the Dallas Bar Follies; and co-directing, co-writing, and performing in the annual SMU law school follies. The Braid: Advisory board member and South Bay producer. Professional: president of a real estate company. Hobbies: tennis, art, and travel. Special love to her muse, Louis.

MARSHALL BENNETT disappointed his family by not becoming a U.S. diplomat. Born in a small farming community in South Korea, he was later adopted by a Jewish-American family, who bore the pain of his shortcomings. Marshall’s story appears in the book When Half Is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities. At a young age he started modeling in Nashville, Tennessee. and then performing in Melbourne, Australia, where he worked on several local theatre projects. With a deep interest in Asian literature and film, he lived in Japan for three and a half years and embarrassed himself on a daily basis while traveling across Asia for not being very Asian. After experience in the space industry, NASA, and space startups in Silicon Valley, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for film and television. He holds degrees from both Stanford University and Georgetown University.

PAULETTE BENSON (Writer), MAJE from Hebrew Union College, has worked extensively in the greater Los Angeles Jewish community and was a Hillel director at five colleges with small Jewish populations. Benson taught Judiasm as a religio-cultural civilization class at both Cal Poly Pomona (Ethnic Studies Dept.) and again at ORT (for Russian Immigrants). Additionally, she led Jewish studies classes both at UCLA Extension and American Jewish University (then UJ), in their continuing adult education programs. She is the co-author of two published curriculum pieces (student workbooks and teacher manuals): The Jewish Family and Divorce in Jewish Life. Her current interests include creating pottery and writing her family stories. She also actively advocates stopping climate change.

VANESSA BLOOM is an emerging writer, educator, and content creator from Orange County, California. Adopted from China in 1999, she grew up in a lively multi-faith family that is steeped in story. Vanessa followed her love of storytelling to college, where she majored in history at CSU Long Beach. While receiving her BA, she joined the school’s Film Club where she wrote scripts and worked on productions. Upon graduation, Vanessa was hired as an L.A. production assistant. She also directed a documentary-short on The Bolsa Chica Land Trust. More recently, Vanessa reconnected with her Jewish familial background as a cast member of the web series LUNAR: The Jewish Asian Film Project. Additionally, she has served as a mentor for several academic programs reaching high school and middle schoolers. Finally, Vanessa is currently writing a comedy script celebrating her multi-cultural outlook and belief that stories and laughter connect the world.

ARIELLA BLUM-LEMBERG (Writer) graduated with her MFA in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University in the spring of 2022. She previously received her BA in English from UCLA, where she participated in HOOLIGAN Theatre Company as the director of the 2019 mainstage winter musical Fame and as a writer/director in three consecutive one-act play festivals. Recently, her short play The Man and the Match was a finalist in the Full Circle Player’s New Works Festival. Ariella’s writing is largely inspired by her passion for history and literature. To connect with her Jewish heritage, Ariella began studying Yiddish to explore to the rich history of Yiddish film and theater.

AVITA BROUKHIM, a Persian-Jewish actress born and raised in Los Angeles, has performed in high school and community theater shows such as Legally Blonde: the Musical, Evil Dead the Musical, Hairspray, The 39 Steps, and others. She currently works in the field of online marketing while simultaneously pursuing her passions for live theater. She is incredibly grateful for this opportunity and very excited to be part of The Braid family of artists.

JAN BERLFEIN BURNS (Writer), a native of Los Angeles, is a mother, grandmother, writer, and photographer. She has been the in-house photographer since 2013 for The Braid, where she is an Abby Freeman Artist in Residence. When she was in her 60s, inspired by finding her mother’s memoir stories, Jan began writing her own. Her writing has appeared in Avoteynu, Jewish Journal, JLL, 34th Parallel, and Gesher Galicia. Her book, March of the Living ~ Our Stories, a collection of stories from Holocaust survivors, was first published in 2014. This is Jan’s second story to be performed by The Braid and first to be performed live, on stage.

TALYA CAMRAS, an experienced stage manager, is thrilled to be making her debut as a director. She graduated from California Lutheran University with a BA in communication and a minor in technical theatre. She has worked with The Braid as a stage manager for Family Matters, Crossing Our Red Sea, The Rest is History, and Sweet Tea & the Southern Jew. Other stage management credits include She Kills Monsters, Measure for Measure, columbinus (KCACTF), The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown and SpongeBob the Musical. Talya loves working with The Braid and is so grateful to have been a part of this team!

DAVID CHIU (Writer/Literary Manager) is a screenwriter whose journey with The Braid began when a story of his was performed in True Colors. He went on to become a two-time NEXT at The Braid Emerging Artists fellow and finally joined this incredible story company as an employee. Television: LORE (Amazon Prime). The Braid: StoryNosh (producer, sound), True Colors (writer), Inside Our Time (writer), For Goodness Sake (writer, director), I Am a Jew (writer), The Rest is History (writer, director, literary), Star-Spangled Sabra (dramaturge). Represented by The Gersh Agency and Authentic Talent & Literary Management. Member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Isaiah of Los Angeles; recipient of its 2019 Emerging Leader Award. Environmental activist and volunteer on various electoral campaigns. Jew of Color, of Litvak and Cantonese heritage. SoCal event organizer for LUNAR: The Asian-Jewish Film Project.

LEE HANNAH CONRADS (she/they) is an LA-based theater director, raised and trained in the Midwest, whose productions ask big questions, wrestle with paradox, and stage impossible things. Previous directing credits include Roots, an evening of one-acts (Theater of Note), Vinegar Tom, Three Sisters, and The Burial at Thebes (Northwestern University), If We Were Birds and The Naked I: Insides Out (20% Theatre Company Twin Cities), Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (Carleton College), No Exit, Medea, and Winter House (The Amber Bastards), as well as assistant-directing credits in Chicago at Steppenwolf and Northlight, in Minneapolis at Ten Thousand Things, Mixed Blood, and the Playwright’s Center, and in New York at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Lee holds a BA from Carleton College and an MFA from Northwestern University.

ABBE MERYL FEDER (Writer) is a writer, producer, actress, and entrepreneur. She grew up on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper East Side. She left The City to study with nicer people and eat beer cheese at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, returning to her hometown after college to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Abbe is the founder of InCircle Fertility, helping women and couples navigate the often turbulent road to family building. She founded InCircle after emerging on the other side of her own all-consuming struggles with infertility and pregnancy loss. During her six-year path to becoming a mother, she and her husband created the podcast Maculate Conception, the {wonderful, award-winning, heartbreaking but bingeable podcast available exclusively to audible. She is an avid mahjong and card player, will take on any escape room, and has been called by many friends a true “balabusta.” She is a recurring contrib- utor to the popular blogs, What’s Up Moms and Fertility, Rescripted. You can find her on social media at @abbefeder (instagram).

ANDREW FROMER (Assistant Artistic Director) a Los Angeles native, grew up as an active member in the Jewish community through Stephen Wise Temple. He attended Windward School in Mar Vista, where his career as an actor began in the school plays and musicals. After completing his BFA in theater at UC Santa Barbara and an exciting year of living in Israel, Andrew returned to LA for acting and producing. His TV credits include Never Have I Ever (Netflix) and Anger Management (FX); feature film credits include Highway to Havasu (Billy/Producer) and The Sweet Life (Mike/Assistant to Production). Andrew also edits and directs and is excited to be coordinating this year’s iteration of NEXT @ The Braid, The Braid’s Emerging Artists Fellowship. Find out more info at the-braid.org/next.

LEILAH FRANKLIN studied theater at Bard College and at the Acting Conservatory at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. Having grown up on film sets, she went into production as a PA on large productions such as Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, and Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling. As an associate producer, Leilah helped manage production and coordinate marketing for the animated short The Birds and the Bees, starring Anjelica Huston, Hassan Minhaj, and Sean Astin. She likes working in fast-paced collaborative settings and dealing in material that seeks to question.

RONIT GILBERT-ARANOFF is honored to be making her debut with The Braid. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Stella Adler Studio, Ronit has been seen on stage off-Broadway and regionally around the country. She was most recently on the new FOX show Pivoting, as well as Good Girls (NBC) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO). Ronit is an award-winning screenwriter and is currently working on a feature, various pilots, and a YouTube series with her writing partner at Grumpette Productions. She also wrote, starred in, and produced two seasons of the award-winning show Seeking: The Webseries. Ronit is grateful to her husband Matthew and their dog Izzy for their unconditional support and snuggles.

AMANDA HOROWITZ (Stage Manager) wants to spend her life organizing and creating new theater. She recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees in theater and math from the University of Alabama, where she stage-managed and assistant stage-managed eight shows in the theater department. She most recently directed a thirty-minute play as part of a new-works play festival in North Hollywood. She hopes someday to be able to run her own theater company dedicated to producing emerging theater and providing other young adults with their first paid opportunities in the arts. She is thankful to The Braid for providing her first step toward her professional career.

KATHERINE KOLLER (Writer) writes for stage, screen, and page. Her first plays were for CBC radio. Her full-length stage plays include the Alberta LandWorks Trilogy: Coal Valley, The Seed Savers, and Last Chance Leduc, an Alberta Playwriting Competition winner. Her opera, The Handless Maiden, received a recital reading in Vancouver, and Hope Soup, for radio, was recorded at the Edmonton Fringe. Her web series is at sustainablemeyeg.ca. Art Lessons, her novel, was a finalist for the Edmonton Book Prize and the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. Winning Chance, her collection of short stories, won a 2020 High Plains Book Award. Her short fiction has also been published in Grain, Room, Epiphany, Alberta Views, and Edify, and her screenplays Waterfall and Cowgirl Boots and a Mustang are in development. Riverkeeper was a finalist in the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award and the Alberta Playwriting Competition. Katherine produces Script Salon, monthly new play readings, which is now in its ninth year. www.katherinekoller.ca

BARBARA KROLL (Writer) is a retired professor of linguistics and composition studies whose teaching career began at the then-nascent Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Israel. She specialized in teaching academic writing skills to non-native speakers of English, trained teachers of freshman composition, and wrote for and edited numerous academic publications. Having lived through so many years of being closeted and with the fear of being outed, Barbara now shares loudly and proudly that she is a Jewish lesbian married to a woman. She grew up in Brooklyn, spent most of her 20s in Israel, and has been living in Los Angeles since arriving here to attend graduate school at USC nearly 50 years ago. She and wife Ruth recently marked 43 years together since their first date.

SHARON LANDAU (Braid Managing Director) brings to The Braid 20 years of non-profit leadership experience helping programs and organizations scale and thrive. As a non-profit director and consultant, she engaged multidisciplinary stakeholders to design, pilot, scale and evaluate innovative programs improving contraceptive access at local, state and national levels that became replicable models.° She launched Pharmacy Forward, the nation’s first leadership program for pharmacists in reproductive health. She previously worked in management consulting for Kaiser Permanente and as clinic manager for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. She holds a masters in Public Health from UCLA and is an alumna of CA Women’s Policy Institute and Center for Collaborative Planning’s Leadership Institute.

ZOË MANN is from New York City and moved to Los Angeles to study writing and producing for television at Loyola Marymount University’s graduate program. In NYC, Zoë was an actor and attended the Lee Strasberg Institute and the Professional Performing Arts high school. For college, Zoë ended up exploring a different career path at Pace University, where she graduated with a BA in art history. Thinking she was going to become the next female Indiana Jones and study toward a master’s degree in archeology, Zoë found herself missing the performing arts. After finding out that it can be 75 degrees in November, Zoë made it her mission to go to graduate film school in LA. After she achieved her master’s in May 2022, Zoë hopes to work in television development. Zoë’s first love was in small black-box theaters in New York, and she is honored to be a part of the NEXT program. working with The Braid and is so grateful to have been a part of this team!

JODI MARCUS (Community Partnership Lead) vividly remembers that day in second grade when she tucked herself into a corner to read Swimmy by Leo Lionni, and was struck by the desire to write stories when she grew up. After writing “everything but” — grants, marketing materials, web- site copy — she decided she was “grown up” and embarked on her creative journey. Thankfully, this includes joining The Braid team in 2021, where she is surrounded by incredible talent. As The Braid’s community partnership lead, Jodi helps to share The Braid experience with others by book- ing shows across the country. In a much younger iteration of her life, Jodi saw half the world as a dancer. Trading in her tap shoes for tapping on the computer, Jodi’s working on a novel for tween readers and also writes short stories.