“Turn off your ignorance” is one of the first things the two performers of the Black-Jew Dialogues told the more than 60 students who filled the Geneva Room on Feb. 2. Sponsored by the Abbe Center for Jewish Life with the support of HWS Hillel, the Black-Jew Dialogues used thought-provoking comedy to discuss contemporary cross-generational and cross-cultural dilemmas surrounding both the Black and Jewish communities within the United States.
Using a unique blend of sketches, improvisations, multi-media and puppetry, the comedy show celebrated various aspects of Black and Jewish culture such as the food and art of these respective groups.
Julianne Miller, director of Abbe Center for Jewish Life and Hillel adviser, enjoyed the performance and the conversations that it generated. “It was a different but equally important way of approaching issues of social justice and racial and religious cooperation and understanding,” Miller says. “They explored issues of stereotyping and the role of fear in how our society looks at people who are different, and how the experience of being ‘the other’ has affected different racial and religious groups.”
Other than illustrating what the comedy troupe refers to as the “Greatest Hits of Pain and Suffering” that these two historically marginalized groups underwent, the performers hosted a post-show discussion where students were asked to discuss some of the issues that they may see at HWS and the greater community and were encouraged to provide solutions.
The performers also urged students to have dialogues with those who are different from themselves in order to learn from each other.
“I liked how the performance perfectly blended comedy, while highlighting important issues that plague our nation,” says Stephen Graham ’20.