Dames of the Dance

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She started taking tap dancing lessons this year. Any other woman who joins a dancing class would toss her shoes into the car, zip out to the class and zip back home again. But not Sharon Katz of Efrat. She is always creating new projects – the Raise Your Spirits Summer Stock Company, the Gush Katif Bridal Showers, and the Kollel at the Tomb of Rachel, to name just a few.

After only a few lessons, she said to her friends, “This is fun! Let’s put on a show! We’ll invite all the women dancers in Efrat and Gush Etzion to join us!” And, as usual, the proceeds would go to tzedaka – in this case, to help families in financial distress buy food before the Pesach holiday.

150 woman and girls from various groups, and individuals, rehearsed separately for weeks, and then in a grand joint finale. Choreographic supervision was by Jocelyn Odenheimer of Efrat, a dance teacher and performer, who graduated Stanford University, studied at JTS and danced on Broadway before making aliya. The styles were tap, jazz, modern, Israeli, “eastern” (also known as belly-dancing), hip hop and Latin.

There was a special performance, mostly by “mature” women, of the dances of the ‘60’s and earlier – the twist, hitch-hiker, mashed potato, monkey, jive, jerk, cha cha, swing. This was choreographed by Cheryl Mandel of Alon Shvut, who was celebrating her own 60th birthday this year, just like Israel. She read short narrations about her life, including how she danced as a go-go girl on TV in her (pre-Orthodox) teens, and how she had to eventually pick herself up and return to dancing after her son, Lieutenant Daniel Mandel, was killed at the age of twenty-four, leading his elite unit in battle with terrorists in Shechem, on April 15, 2003.

The two high-energy evenings, produced by Sharon, performed before more than 800 women in Efrat and Gush Etzion, were a rousing success and raised NIS 40,000 for tzedaka. There will be two more evenings in September, as the crowds cried for more.

Performers varied in age from ten to 60+, proof that we’re never too old to dance.

Rebecca Kowalsky, who made aliyah with her husband in 1985, is a photographer and mother of six. You can see more of her work on her site www.ImagesThroughTime.com, and contact her at photos@ImagesThroughTime.com.

Toby Klein Greenwald is a writer, an educational theater director (www.bible-arts.com) and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily.com.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.