This Rabbi has a mission and it’s complicated

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The story is centered on a former Rabbi now administrator of a local soup kitchen serving homeless and other needy people in his community. But to his friends he is and always shall be “Rabbi.”

One day an old friend approaches the Rabbi with a very serious problem. It seems the friend’s son has taken up with a woman not of the Jewish faith and the son is considering marriage. As can happen whenever there is a clash of the devout and the less committed, stress mounts and problems need to be addressed. In this instance the friend merely asks that the “Rabbi” meet with and provide guidance to his son and the young man’s girlfriend.

Adding to this mix is the Rabbi’s still very deep affection for his deceased wife and the reintroduction of his former girlfriend. Are you getting this? Yep! It really is getting complicated.

But working their way through this maze of conflict and clash is what brings forth the humor and entertainment in the show. The devoutly Jewish friend is hopeful and confident that his Rabbi friend can and will convince his son not to marry a non-Jew, but the son considers himself a cultural Jew rather than a religious Jew.

Adding even more drama to the show, in the course of his meetings the Rabbi learns of exactly how the young man and his fiancé first meet. That knowledge is extremely disturbing but not contemplated within the context of the show nearly as much as the religious divide.

There is abundant humor throughout and the cast does an excellent job. Paul Michael Nieman is Jacob the “Rabbi” and J. Kent Inasy is Richard the Rabbi’s assistant. Stan Mazin is Al the distressed father, Shalonda Shaw is Marci, Rebecca Westberg is Theresa [the Rabbi’s former girlfriend] and James Haley is David.

The show raises some very interesting issues and conflicts but also delivers significant humor keeping it fresh and lively. However there are two aspects of the show I found to be a bit off key. One is that it seemed to me that Jacob the “Rabbi” spent too much time bloviating. The other thing I found disturbing was when the Rabbi learns of the circumstances under which Marci and David first met the focus remains almost entirely on the religious issue rather than the very deep issue of just exactly what are the odds of a former prostitute entering into and succeeding at marriage?

That said the show is entertaining and delivers both mental stimulation and abundant humor. Even though it is heavily steeped in the Jewish experience it is nevertheless enjoyable to a broad audience without regard to their religious faith.

The Rabbi’s Mission runs now through August 27th at the Theatre Unlimited, 10943 Camarillo, North Hollywood, California. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling 818-285-8699.

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For another art form consider this collection.