Art has always had a way of connecting audiences with the subject matter. This is exactly what the show TRYmester: Jewish Fertility Journeys Out Loud will attempt to do when it comes to the Sabes JCC. The show was scheduled for Sunday, March 22, was postponed due to the coronavirus. It will be presented on Nov. 15, 2020.
The show was performed in 2018 in New York, and 2019 in Boston. The show is a program of Uprooted: A Jewish Communal Response To Fertility Journeys, an organization that Dalia Davis co-founded in 2014, and The In[Heir]itance Project.
“We had to find one person who believed in, and the first here was Rimon[: The MN Jewish Arts Council], and we got that grant a year and a half ago,” said Davis. “That allowed us to go to everybody else and say that we’re really going to do this performance.”
Uprooted is a non-profit organization that educates American Jewish leaders in assisting families with fertility journeys. Davis, who moved to Minnesota with her family when her husband, Rabbi Max Davis, took over the pulpit at Darchei Noam, has been working to build up the organization locally since then.
The show, Davis’ co-founder and Uprooted executive director Becca Shimshak wrote in the playbill for last year, was “was born from dreams of people traveling alongside those trying to have a child; those trying to understand, trying to offer support, and trying to embrace with love. We believe the arts offer an opportunity to deeply empathize with fertility strugglers by bearing witness to personal narratives expressed.”
TRYmester combines music, theater, and dance, which Davis choreographed. The show has kept three of the four performers in all the performances nationwide so far. The one role that has changed is the one that is primarily a dancer – which Davis oversees.
“I spent like the last few weeks on zoom every night rehearsing with this person, because everyone’s in New York,” she said. “Which is okay because they can rehearse together.”
In addition to Rimon, the project is also being sponsored by YALA Twin Cities, a program of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations, Hadassah Upper Midwest, and the Brin Jewish Arts Endowment.
“We don’t just want people to come to the performance that is going through this kind of thing because that makes it even more isolating,” Davis said. “We wanted to specifically be like the broad community everybody comes everybody’s here to support you, whether they’re in their 80s or whether they’re they’ve never been through this before and they’re just coming to learn and be here and witness what this experience is like.”
After the performance day, there is a second part of the program: a chavurah.
“We got a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation to do these chavurot, because once you do the performance if we don’t have things in place, it’s like great, and now what?” Davis said. The first chavurah is launching in-person in Boston after meeting online for several months.
“I’ve been creating the curriculum for that and training the rabbis in Boston,” she said. “Each chavurah is led by a clergy member, and then there’s also a mental health professional present for anybody who wants to for it.”
The chavurah in the Twin Cities has funding for three months – April, May, and June. It’s designed for couples to go together.
“We like when it’s a couple that comes because then like, they’re both going through a healing process together, which is really nice,” she said. The hard part is getting people comfortable to be there.
“A lot of times support groups that happen at synagogues don’t succeed because people don’t want to go in and see everybody that they know,” she said. “But this is different because it’s really supposed to be more of like a social gathering.”