From Jeremiah & Wendy Ginsberg
regarding the controversy:
In the Spring of 1997, we wrote a new musical, "Mendel & Moses," and produced it in Los Angeles, first in a 99-seat theater, The Century City Playhouse, and then we moved it up to the prestigious 375-seat Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills.
"Mendel & Moses" tells the biblical story of the Exodus and the life of Moses.
The show opens with the Narrator, Mendel Moskowitz from Brooklyn, attending a Passover Seder at Tante Sadie and Uncle Schwartz' house. After complaining that people just don't take Moses seriously anymore, suddenly the Angel Gabriel appears and whisks Mendel back in time to Ancient Egypt where he ends up as a slave in one of Pharaoh's labor camps. As a wise-cracking Hebrew slave, Mendel lives through the epic adventures of the Exodus with Moses and the children of Israel.
"Mendel & Moses" is full of good-natured humor, excellent song and dance, high drama and poignancy. It is thoroughly Jewish, and thoroughly enjoyed by non-Jews as well. Written with love to inspire people, especially the Jewish people, to turn back to God, it received rave reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, Frontline Magazine, Drama-Logue, and other publications.
A great controversy broke out against our show which ultimately caused its demise. Karen K., a Jewish actress, was originally cast in "Mendel & Moses" for the Century City Playhouse production. When she found out that we are Messianic Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, she became outraged.
The way Karen expressed it to us, her brother had become a believer in Yeshua and then tried to throw himself off a building. Apparently, she blamed his emotional instability on Messianic Jews in general, and on the Lord Yeshua in particular. She also was angry with us for our creative decision to modify her role somewhat by cutting one of her songs, which she felt reduced her part to an ensemble player rather than a featured performer.
Karen suddenly quit on opening night, May 3, 1997, at The Century City Playhouse. She said it was because her role was diminished. It later came out that she quit because she disagreed with our personal beliefs.
Not only did she quit our show, but unbeknownst to us and behind our backs, she went to Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, head of the anti-missionary organization, Jews for Judaism, and told him that we are Messianic Jews. She contacted other Jewish organizations as well.
Bentzion Kravitz and Jews For Judaism then mounted a vicious and widespread campaign against "Mendel & Moses" simply because we, the writers and producers, are Messianic Jewish Believers in Yeshua. He contacted newspapers, Jewish organizations, and synagogues. He even contacted the Consulate General of Israel, who had already agreed to co-host the opening night gala for "Mendel & Moses" (invitations with the Embassy's logo had been printed and were about to be mailed to Jewish celebrities), and caused them to withdraw from their commitment to us.
By July 15, 1997, the first preview of "Mendel & Moses" at the Canon Theatre, people were calling the box office and asking, "Is this show Jewish or Christian?" We were shocked and puzzled and couldn't imagine who was giving people these ideas. (We didn't find out about Kravitz until later.) Rosalie Lazarus, our group sales agent, was getting phone calls from people who interrogated her as to the nature of our show, if it is Christian or what.
On July 24, 1997, Rob Eshman of The Jewish Journal began calling us because Kravitz had told him that we are Messianic Jews and that our show was funded by Jews For Jesus (it wasn't), and that The Jewish Journal should not allow us to advertise in their paper. Mr. Eshman interviewed Jeremiah by phone for an article on the controversy.
On July 25, 1997, Don Shirley, theater critic of The Los Angeles Times, called our press agent and said that Kravitz contacted him and told him that our show is "a deceptive attempt to convert Jews." Don Shirley said to Kravitz something like, "I saw Mendel & Moses and there is nothing in it that smacks of proselytizing." On July 29, 1997, Don Shirley interviewed us by phone for over an hour to discuss the show, our beliefs, and the controversy created by Rabbi Kravitz.
On August 1, 1997, Rob Eshman's article came out in The Jewish Journal, and on August 3, 1997, Don Shirley's article, "Mendel & Moses and the Messiah," came out in the Sunday Calendar section of The Los Angeles Times. Their articles fueled the controversy.
Ticket sales, which had been climbing steadily, began to fall abruptly as a result of the controversial publicity. People called the theater box office and requested their money back. Rosalie Lazarus, our group sales agent, got calls (some irate) from Jewish groups who had already bought tickets asking for refunds. Other theatre parties called to tell her that many of the people in their groups decided not to come, decreasing the number of people who would attend. Rosalie Lazarus, who is Jewish herself, tried to defend our show to these Jewish organizations, but then said to us, "Kravitz has made such a stink in the Jewish community that it makes it impossible for me to sell groups."
We couldn't believe this was happening. We thought if we ignored it and worked on perfecting the show (which got some rave reviews), the controversy would go away and the box office would pick up. It didn't. On August 24, 1997, "Mendel & Moses" closed at the Canon Theatre after only six weeks. In spite of great reviews, there were simply not enough ticket sales to keep the show running. Our objectives to perfect the show through continuing performances at other larger theatres until it was ready for a Broadway opening were thwarted.
Jews For Judaism's malicious and relentless efforts poisoned the minds of Jewish theatre-goers (for whom the show was written) and damaged ticket sales so badly, that we were forced out of business. Rabbi Kravitz succeeded in his religious discrimination campaign against us. He ruined a beautiful show, seen and loved by thousands of Jewish people, just because the writers are Messianic Jews.
Our attorney instituted legal action against Kravitz and Jews For Judaism to recover the production costs, a total loss for our investors, and to open up a platform for disseminating the truth of the Messiahship of Yeshua. But the action was withdrawn in the interests of forgiveness and reconciliation.
May God's Holy Spirit remove the veil from the eyes of Israel en masse (2 Cor. 3:14-16; Isa. 25:7), and begin "the times of restoration of all things." (Acts 3:21)
We still owe thousands of dollars resulting from the production of "Mendel & Moses." Thus, we ask for your prayers that God will restore what the Enemy has stolen.
God bless you with His Shalom,
Jeremiah & Wendy Ginsberg
Home | Donate | Mendel & Moses | Rabboni | New Prophecy Book | Newsletter | Jeremiah Ginsberg