Since 2007, the National Jewish Theater Foundation (NJTF) a 501(c) 3 charitable organization has presented theatrical works that celebrate the richness of Jewish heritage and culture. Under the leadership of its founding Producing Artistic Director Arnold Mittelman, supported by staff, board members, charter and ongoing donors, volunteers and an esteemed Advisory Board the NJFT has promoted the appreciation and preservation of Jewish musical and dramatic theatrical material and history. As one of the leading, fully professional performing arts organization to focus exclusively on Jewish theater, NJTF is committed to educating the public on Jewish content and themes. NJTF productions have been presented to diverse audiences across America and throughout the world. Early productions included Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears that toured internationally. Originally created by Theodore Bikel in conjunction with Theatre J in Washington D.C. The NJTF funded, further developed and moved the production to New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco South Florida and Toronto This play with music is now being transformed into a feature film starring the legendary Mr. Bikel.
The NJTF also mounted and produced in South Florida, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Toronto, The Soul of Gershwin by Joseph Vass that explores the elements of Jewish identity expressed in the music of George Gershwin. Most recently the NJTF, working with the Ira Gershwin estate, has developed and toured Words By Ira Gershwin by Mr. Vass. Having originated in San Diego it has been licensed for performances in Minneapolis-St Paul, Portland and Los Angeles with a new production being developed for London.
This commitment to musical theater has now seen NJTF create a new musical work Rothschild and Sons with music and lyrics by the legendary Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick and book by Sherman Yellen. This play examines the rise to power, against all odds, of the Rothschild family.
Exploring more serious themes the NJTF produced in 2010 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas, Tx. the powerful drama Hard Love by the contemporary Israeli playwright Motti Lerner.
In 2012 NJTF created the NYC off Broadway production of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen directed by Mr. Mittelman. This critically acclaimed play was then filmed and is distributed on line internationally by London based Digital Theatre and American Public Television for PBS. NJTF also produced a companion documentary I Will Refuse To Bubble that examines through first person interviews the historic content of The Soap Myth and the role and power of theater.
It was their commitment to celebrating Jewish history and artistry that inspired the leaders of NJTF to launch the Holocaust Theater International Initiative (HTII) to fill a major void and examine how one of the greatest catastrophes in Jewish and World history has been made more understandable through the insights, creativity and courage of Jewish theater artists and others of differing backgrounds. The NJTF/HTII, overseen by a renowned advisory board composed of Theater Artists and Holocaust Scholars grew out of a planning conference and program grants funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and private donors. This precedent setting project is composed of three major components:
1. Holocaust Theater Catalog
2. Holocaust Theater Education
3. Holocaust Theater Production.
The NJTF commitment to its Holocaust Theater International Initiative and its three dynamic inter-related components has become a primary mission. For more information please visit the National Jewish Theater Foundation.