At ISRAMERICA, the geography lines between Israel and America have become non-existent. That fact can be felt in every aspect of the organization’s work, right down to its name, a creation invented when founder and president Sivan Hadari needed a way of identifying herself to others.
“People were always asking me if I was Israeli or American,” said Hadari, who was born in the US but made aliyah at age 12. “So I eventually started telling people I was Isramerican.”
Today, that moniker marks more than just an ethnicity. The guys and gals of ISRAMERICA are a varied bunch of artists, presenting musical performances, sketch comedy shows and original theater to the people of New York. Part core troupe, part platform for emerging performers, Hadari said the program has come to include a “very tightknit group of artists” that’s more “like a family.”
That family feeling can also be experienced by those without a creative bone, as ISRAMERICA produces a slew of events each month. The works are presented with a focus on Jewish Israelis roots. Citing a past experience in which she was met with anti-Semitism, Hadari said she felt the need to create a space to showcase “the beautiful side of Israel without any negative undertones.”
That ideal was a risk, as Hadari originally set out with few resources to fund her venture. In fact, the group’s first show, at the now-defunct Sage Theater, was a total experiment.
“The first showcase we did was completely without sponsors, in a 99-seat theater in Times Square,” she said. “Not only did we sell out, we had to turn people away.”
Hadari credits that response with the reaction the Jewish community has to this niche genre.
“When it has to do with Judaism or Israel, there’s an added value. And we saw that value, not just when the artists were performing, not just when the audience was applauding, but afterward person after person came up and thanked us. They said, ‘I’ve felt that way before.’”
Cultivating that bond is at the heart of every ISRAMERICA performance, Hadari said, as the staff and artists work to bring both American and Israeli Jews together.
“The deepest way to connect to people is through art,” she said. “And if we can bridge that gap between Israel and America, that’s the goal.”
Sivan Hadari’s one-woman show, “The Emancipation of the Sassy Jewish Woman,” will play at the Times Square Spring Theatre Festival, April 14 and 15. For more information on ISRAMERICA visit www.isramerica.com.
.ORG-Connection: ISRAMERICA is a non-profit organization comprised of emerging Israeli and Jewish-American artists, working together to create meaningful art inspired by the duality of leading a Jewish-Israeli-American lifestyle.