Yehuda Hyman









Excerpt from: Israel the first time

– first published in Sifrut, a journal of the Northern California Jewish Bulletin in 1992 –





I wanted to see The Wall


I wanted to be The Wall


I wanted to be there, at the Holy of Holies,

pressing my face against the rocks, damp

with ancient tears, wet with the pain

of eternal homelessness.



But when I got there, it was Bar Mitzvah day.



Yemenite women were leaning over the

male/female partition.  They were

pelting their beloved boys with hard

candies, laughing and yelling:


“Lu lu lu lu lu lu lu!”


                    So, I really couldn’t weep.






The second time I go to the Wall, I

notice a cave-like entrance to the left.

I enter looking for redemption; a stupid

American concept.


A beautiful old man in black sings “Moshiach!”

as I walk by.


Another man – older, grayer, looking like

the Grandfather I never knew beckons

me closer.  He speaks in Russian. I

shake my head.


          “From vere you are?”


                    “San Francisco”


          “And vere your fater?”




He gasps. Eyes light up. He sings in Yiddish.

He presses his warm palm on my covered head.

He blesses me, filling me with love – belonging –

family.  I am home.


And then –


          The same hand that blessed me – palms down,


          turns palms up and asks:




                              “Uh, what?”


                    “Tzedakah, tzedakah.”


          Money.  His fee – for a blessing.


          I shake my head.  He runs after me.


                    “Tzedakah, tzedakah, tzedakah!”



                              I’d like to blow it up.  This pile of rocks.






The third time I went to the Wall,

I thought of my father.


If my father could come to this Wall

he might cry.  Like he did the day

John Kennedy was buried.


He might stand next to it and close

his eyes like he did sometimes during

Yom Kippur prayers.


He might wear a freshly-pressed suit

and just stand there.

Respectful and distant. Watching those

other “religious types” from afar.



I wish my father could touch this Wall

and feel the love he never felt when

he was alive.


I wish my father would touch me like

I touch this Wall.


I wish.






It was my last chance to see

The Wall.  I ran through the Arab Market,

terrified by images I had learned from

racist American films and seduced by

the spicy incense all around. I wanted

to stay and see more but I couldn’t.

I ran and ran until I got to the Cardo

where 20 beautiful Israeli soldiers

milled around.  The rain was persistent

and I wanted to stay and study those

faces but something called me.


I arrived at The Wall coming from darkness

and the stones of the wet floor spoke

to me in pastels – Pink,     blue,


          beige,     gray,     ochre.


I stepped through the gate, grabbed

a cardboard Yarmulke and



          Shechina was there



She was so glad that I had come.

Strange that women are not welcome

on this side of The Wall where the

feminine is so strong.   Strange.

But she doesn’t mind too much.  She’s

patient.  A Jewish mother knows that

all her children come back home eventually.


I kissed her goodbye and walked out

the gate heading home.


But then the rain stopped and I heard

a poem.     It went like this:


          “              .”











Yehuda Hyman is a choreographer, playwright, actor, dancer, poet and storyteller who makes original Dance Theatre works. He was born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Poland and Russia. He began his training when he traveled to Brussels, Belgium at age 16 to attend Maurice Bejart’s multidisciplinary theater/dance school, MUDRA as a scholarship student.  Following a career as a professional dancer and choreographer (Broadway, film, television, concert stage), Mr. Hyman began writing. His plays include The Mad Dancers, David in Shadow and Light (co-written with Daniel Hoffman), Center of the Star, Swan Lake Calhoun, I Ask You, Ladies and Gentlemen (adapted from the memoir by Leon Surmelian) and Max, Rapunzel and the Night. His work has been produced at the McCarter Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, San Diego Repertory Theater, Theatre J, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Beast Theater, Piven Theatre Workshop, Highways Performance Space, and The Marsh among others. Honors include the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, the National Endowment of the Arts /TCG Playwright-in-Residence grant to work with Cornerstone Theater of Los Angeles, additional NEA grants, a Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis, Heideman Award and grants from the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is an Associate Artist with Cornerstone Theater. His poetry and prose have been published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Northern California Jewish Bulletin, Minnesota Monthly, Revue Alsacienne de Litterature, Recours au Poème and Seeing Jewish and Israeli Dance, published by Wayne State University Press. He has translated the work of German poet, Eva-Maria Berg. Mr. Hyman recently acted in New York City with Target Margin Theater and with The Civilians and was an Artist Fellow at the LABA House of Study at the 14St Y in New York City (2013/2014). He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Performance from Empire State College, SUNY and his Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College. He has been a guest teacher at Princeton University, University of Southern California, Barnard College, New York University, Goucher College, Whittier College, University of Indiana and the Rhodopi Institute in Smolyan, Bulgaria. He is currently on the faculty of the Dance/Movement Therapy Graduate Program at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Yehuda Hyman is the Artistic Director of YEHUDA HYMAN/MystFT – a Dance Theatre ensemble based in Brooklyn, New York.

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