Since 2007, the National Jewish Theater Foundation (NJTF) a 501(c) 3 charitable organization presented theatrical works celebrating 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 Just prior to his passing, this play with music was 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, developed and toured Words By Ira Gershwin by Mr. Vass. Having originated in San Diego it has received critically acclaimed productions in Minneapolis-St Paul, Portland, and Los Angeles.
This commitment to musical theater has now seen NJTF create a new musical work Rothschild & 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. NJTF helped produce the premiere New York City and London sold out engagements. NJTF helped produce a cast album. It was filmed by Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts and is licensed for production by Music Theater International (MTI).
Exploring themes in drama, NJTF produced the powerful play Hard Love by contemporary Israeli playwright Motti Lerner at AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas.
NJTF made possible the NYC off-Broadway production of The Soap Myth by Jeff Cohen directed by Mr. Mittelman. This critically acclaimed play was filmed and is distributed online 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 historical content of The Soap Myth, anti-Semitism, 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). It fills a major research, education and production void by examining 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. Its mission is sustained by private donations to the NJTF HTII Second Decade Legacy Fund. This precedent-setting program is now part University of Miami Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies. NJTF HTII is composed of three inter-related components: 1) Holocaust Theater Research 2) Holocaust Theater Education 3) Holocaust Theater Production.
For more information please visit the National Jewish Theater Foundation.