Above: Preschoolers at the Chaya Mushka Children’s House seem captivated by the “Twirl & Zip” performance Dec. 8.
By R.M. Grossblatt
Elisheva Beck, an alumna of the Richard and Jean Katz Temima High School for Girls, watched “Twirl & Zip: A Chanukah Trip” at the Chaya Mushka Children’s House, where her sons attend preschool, on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Beck designed and painted scenery for Temima’s first “Twirl & Zip” show in 2004. Marveling at this year’s performance in the social hall at Congregation Beth Tefillah, she said: “It’s so professional.”
Similar comments were heard when the girls performed for children at the Marcus Jewish Community Center’s Weinstein School, Temple Sinai, The Temple’s Weinberg Early Learning Center, the Atlanta Jewish Academy and the community at Congregation Beth Jacob.
“When are you going on Broadway?” an AJA teacher asked after the show.
But Broadway wasn’t Temima’s destination. The girls’ focus, said Gitty Golding, Temima’s activities coordinator and the producer of “Twirl & Zip,” was “to teach the real story of Chanukah and bring its message to Jewish children all over Atlanta.”
A major part of that message is helping the children discover the secret weapon of the Jews, which is learning Torah and doing mitzvot.
About every two years, Temima presents “Twirl & Zip.” In the other years, the students stage a bigger production. As with other shows, Temima Principal Miriam Feldman, the writer of the play, presented to her students at Cafe Night how to achieve the goals of the show and grow in the process.
The girls then took ownership. For about four weeks they attended Sunday and late-night rehearsals, painted scenery, made costumes by hand, created props, and sent out publicity. Golding said the long working hours brought out the talent and creativity of the girls and strengthened their ability to learn from one another.
“It was a great bonding experience,” Golding said.
Members of the community helped. As assistant producer, Chava Goldberger, also an alumna, shared the responsibility for the production.
Ruth Goldstein, who has volunteered for many Temima plays, directed the girls in reinforcing and making costumes. Every existing costume was touched up, and new ones were made. Dizzy the Dazzling Dreidel, the trees, latkes and other costumes were redone.
While the basic script stayed the same, changes were made to upgrade the show. Two years ago a song with dancing to the tune of “Candlelight,” made famous by Yeshiva University’s Maccabeats, was added. This year Dizzy was updated with a dreidel phone.
To strengthen the singing, a second-level choir was added in the background.
For several years Rachelle Freedman has helped direct plays for Temima (she also directs plays at Torah Day School). “With every play, we see girls blossom and grow,” Freedman said. “They have an opportunity to shine and use their talent to make the show shine.”
The faces of the children in the audience shined when they saw characters such as Dizzy, Torah, Siddur, candlesticks, latkes and Chanukah gelt come alive. To the joy of the children, those and other characters greeted them after the show. The children received original “Twirl & Zip” coloring/activity books and large round stickers that read “I went on a Chanukah Trip with Dizzy.”
In a thank-you note to Temima, Deena Weintraub, the head of the parents group at the JCC, wrote that as soon as she and her 4-year-old son came home from “Twirl & Zip,” he asked her to read aloud the coloring/activity book.
Dassie New, the Chaya Mushka preschool director, wrote, “All of the teachers said it was the best performance we’ve ever had here and that the girls were so kind.”
Photos by R.M. Grossblatt