In 2003 I had the privilege to see Tovah Feldshuh in Golda's Balcony. With 493 performances, it was the longest-running one-woman show in Broadway history. It told the story of Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, and her life, especially dealing with the events surrounding the Yom Kippur War. The play moved me in myriad ways. Feldshuh's performance was so remarkable that it solidified my belief in the power of acting and encouraged me to continue my theatre studies. It also sparked my interest in Israel and the country's place in our world.
My family had planned a trip to Israel several years ago. It was supposed to be a trip in which my grandparents, parents, and I could connect with our roots. Things came up, and the trip was canceled. My grandfather, a lifelong Zionist, has since passed away, and I knew it was always important to him that I made it there. In the beginning of this month I took a 10-day trip through Birthright to Israel. Birthright takes young Jewish adults on a free 10-day tour through the country. Forty of us were on a bus, traveling at an exhausting speed. We would get up at 6:45 a.m., usually hike for several hours in beautiful sites before touring cities and historical landmarks, and end our days at midnight. I had hummus at every meal, stood in the room where Christ's Last Supper occurred, and met people who had nothing to do with the entertainment industry.
What does this trip have to do with acting? Everything. It wasn't just a vacation out of Los Angeles. Usually when I am in any other place, I am thinking about my career: the calls I need to make when I arrive back in town, the auditions I am missing, and what Variety is reporting. I am happy to say I didn't think once about when my next job would be. I totally immersed myself in learning. Riding on a camel in the desert, I was reminded that I often forget there is a world outside of auditions and bookings. I sat through lectures on politics that renewed my interest in something other than Us Weekly. I walked through the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem; it differed from other museums in that it focused on the lives of the individuals who were lost. I was given more than a number and a face or name; I was given a window into someone's life that was taken far too quickly. This trip gave me an experience of a lifetime, which can only make me a more interesting actor and, hopefully, a better person.