The Dream of a Jewish Women’s Theatre
A kitchen table. A pot of coffee. A plate of bagels. Three women came together in an ordinary way to realize the extraordinary dream of creating a theatre for Jewish women.
In the spring of 2007, Ronda Spinak, Ellen Sandler and Deena Novak conceived of the Jewish Women’s Theatre as a nonprofit with the express purpose of developing stories written by Jewish women about their lives in America today and producing those stories in a salon theatre format.
The women had discovered their mutual passion for theatre and their commitment to Jewish culture while working together at another theatre company (more). There, Ronda originated the “At-Homes” concept of salon theatre and produced the first season; Ellen wrote and adapted material, and directed; and Deena produced salon theatre as well as worked on costumes and props.
Eight Women With Know-How
During JWT’s first year of operation, eight women joined around the kitchen table and became founding board members. Each woman brought unique skills, knowledge and know-how to the fledgling company. Bolstered by their enthusiasm and dedication, work began on a fundraising event and the creation of the first season of the At-Homes Salon Theatre Series.
In May of 2008, armed with the newly completed business plan written by Ronda, Andrea Wagner initiated submitting an application to Community Partners, a nonprofit organization that confers nonprofit status on worthy endeavors and assumes fiscal receivership. Andrea and Ronda met with Paul Vandeventer, President & CEO of Community Partners, and Judy Harper, a Program Manager, to discuss the particulars of the business plan and to encourage the expediting of the application, which would make a fall fundraiser a real possibility.
An Invitation from Community Partners
Thankfully, Jewish Women’s Theatre was invited to become a Project of Community Partners in June of 2008. This conferred legitimacy upon the fledgling company. Late summer, Cynthia Freeman, Senior Program Director of Community Partners, became JWT’s project coordinator .
A debut party/fundraiser went off fabulously in October of 2008 in Pacific Palisades at the beautiful home of Cheri Morgan. One hundred twenty guests were in attendance. Many performers donated their time to entertain. Thousands of dollars were raised in donations and subscriptions to the first season of the At-Homes Salon Theatre Series. Tremendous support was voiced. And gratefully, the Jewish Women’s Theatre was launched!