production of dramatic and comedic plays, musical theatre, revues and special performances.
Our mission is to portray Jewish history, philosophy and culture through theatrical productions
dealing with Jewish life in days past, present and future. Through these presentations we hope
to foster a respect for and understanding of the Jewish heritage.
In carrying out this mission, the West Coast Jewish Theatre has the following objectives:
1. To keep alive dramatic works of the past, and to promote and encourage new and
contemporary playwrights whose plays deal with Jewish themes;
2. To reach out to members of the Jewish community and their children and offer them an
opportunity to connect positively with their roots, their ethnicity and their family; and
3. To portray to the non-Jewish community the unique qualities of the Jewish people,
and those qualities shared with everyone that make us all equal in the family of man.
In accomplishing these objectives through entertaining and enlightening theatre, we hope
to be a source of pride to both the Jewish community and the community at large.
The West Coast Jewish Theatre was founded in 1993 when Naomi Karz Jacobs assembled a
group of friends with Yiddishkeit and love of theatre in their hearts. They wanted to find a way
to start a permanent Jewish theatre in Los Angeles. At that time, Los Angeles was the second
largest Jewish community in the United States, with a pool of the most talented people in the
film, television and theatre industries and was the home of major Hollywood studios. Yet it had
no Jewish theatre. Furthermore, there were over forty-five Jewish theatres throughout the
United States and Canada, including smaller communities like San Antonio, Texas, which has
three Jewish theatres.
Despite the fact that several previous attempts by others had failed, Naomi garnered support
from many talented, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers of all ages who felt strongly about
this need and its importance to Jewish cultural continuity. They wanted to carry on Jewish
traditions through the arts, specifically Jewish theatre. Education was also a major objective.
For those who may not be affiliated with Jewish organizations or synagogues, the opportunity
to experience provocative theatre can broaden perspectives and interests in Jewish culture.
The West Coast Jewish Theatre began with staged readings, musical and comedic performances.
Always with an eye on quality, the productions involved talented performers and directors
Corey Allen, Bea Arthur, Edward Asner, Barbara Bain, Shelley Berman, Bonnie Franklin,
Budd Friedmann, Arlene Golonka, Elliott Gould, Harold Gould, Estelle Harris, Monty Hall,
Rocky Kalish, Hal Kanter, Bernie Kopell, Valerie Landsburg, Len Lesser, Rue McClanahan,
and Sammy Shore;
And featuring works of writers such as:
Sholom Aleichem, Carole Braverman, Allan Byrns, Marvin Chernoff, Ron Friedman, Ernest
Joselovitz, Peter Mark Richman, James Sherman, Howard Teichman, and Skip Usen.
After successful co-productions of "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok and
"Rocket to the Moon" by Clifford Odets, in 2005 we began full seasons of award-winning productions.
Lessons by Wendy Graf
American Klezmer by Book by Joanne Koch & Sarah Blacher Cohen, Music by Ilya Levinson, and Lyrics by Owen Kalt
Zero Hour by Jim Brochu
- Winner of the 2006 Los Angeles Theatre Alliance Ovation Award for Best New Play , nominated for Best Actor
Leipzig by Wendy Graf (Co-production with the Lee Strasberg Creative Center)
- Winner of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Performance (Salome Jens) and Nominated for Best New Play.
- Winner of the Backstage West Garland Award for Best Actress (Salome Jens) and Best Play
Lessons by Wendy Graf
The Smartest Man in the World by Book and Lyrics Russ Alben and John Sparks, Music by Jerry Hart
A Majority of One by Leonard Spigelgass
The West Coast Jewish Theatre is supported in part by a grant from
The Robert Gore Rifkind Foundation
The Los Angeles County Arts Commission
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