New Jerusalem (Limited-Run Performance)

The Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival partners with Home Made Theater, the Saratoga Springs Community Theater, to present New Jerusalem for a special summer limited-run production for performances July 25 and August 1.

New Jerusalem, about the real-life Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, will be performed twice at Saratoga Springs’ Congregation Shaara Tfille on Sunday, July 25, and twice at Clifton Park’s Congregation Beth Shalom on Sunday, August 1.

The production will also be streamed for 24 hours on a later date.

Written by playwright David Ives, New Jerusalem is based on actual events that occurred at Talmud Torah Congregation on July 27, 1656.  The show won the 2008 Hull-Warriner Award from the Dramatists Guild of America, an award that is unique in that it is conferred on playwrights by other playwrights.

The play, according to a L.A. Theatre Works write-up, follows the philosopher Spinoza as he faces excommunication from the Jewish community for his provocative, subversive new ideas.

“Often called the ‘absolute philosopher’ of the 17th century, Spinoza was a passionate advocate of rationalism, the idea that [one’s] intellect is superior to [ones] senses. A Portuguese Jew living in Amsterdam, Spinoza’s allegedly atheist beliefs not only shocked the Jewish community but jeopardized their comfortable relationship with the surrounding Dutch society.”

“When Spinoza is given the opportunity to defend himself in front of a room full of critics, the result is a courtroom clash between religion and rationalism,” the write up states.

Directed by Dianne O’Neill, Home Made Theaters seven-member cast features Saratoga Springs’ Jonathan Hefter as Spinoza. Rounding out the cast are Max Beyer of Albany, Saratoga Springs’ Devra Cohen-Tigor, Saratoga Springs’ Christina DiCarlo, Troy’s George Filieau, Doug Gladstone of Wilton, and Gary Maggio of Albany.

This Production is a collaboration of Home Made Theater and the Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival. Proceeds from the production will benefit Home Made Theater, Congregation Shaara Tfille, Congregation Beth Shalom, and Temple Sinai. It is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York. 

“Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival is incredibly pleased to become engaged in this collaboration,” says Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of the Festival, “and we look forward to further opportunities to enrich this relationship.”

The four performances are at the following venues: July 25 at 1 and 5 p.m. at Congregation Shaara Tfille, located at 84 Weibel Avenue in Saratoga Springs; August 1, at 1 and 5 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom, located at 688 Clifton Park Center Road.

Tickets can be purchased on the Home Made Theater website or by calling 518-587- 4427. Information on the streamed performance will be available at a later date.