Creamy and War Photos
By Ethan Cohen
Rosh Hashana Day 1 Haftarah
Ethan Cohen...OFFSTAGE VOICE, ISAAC, ETHAN
Mayadevi Ross...GOD’S EMISSARY, HAGAR
Ryan Szelong...SARAH, ETHAN’S DAD
A hand for God’s Emissary!
(Wears a US Army recruiter outfit)
Twenty thousand British soldiers died during the first ten minutes of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 because of arrogant generals and imperial greed. In our modern American democracy, we value human life and youthful talent. We don’t seek to waste your children’s bodies in wanton attacks on strategic ports and mountains. We seek to nourish the young people’s creative, independent thinking.
(Pointing to an imaginary blackboard)
Psychological and Technological Manipulation, PTM, prevents pointless bloodshed. Through this nascent branch of the department of defense, bright rising stars of our country imagine newer, more efficient ways of defeating our enemies nonviolently, through innovations like nightmare injections and rapid water siphoning.
Tell your son: The enemy is committing atrocities, its society stands antagonistic to our freedom, and their leaders have forced us to act for justice. While tragedy may befall some, your child is sure to come home in one piece, to world peace.
I thank the temple men’s club for hosting me.
ABRAHAM and SARAH debate enlisting their son Isaac.
Abraham, the first Hebrew, our son Isaac’s mind is not ours to sell!
Sarah my spouse, also from Breishit, the first book of Torah, Goddess has revealed herself to scores of fools before me. Each must have proven standard, dispensable, unworthy. Surely we must suffer to show Goddess our devotion.
Goddess is eternal; humans live for lifetimes. Her scope is larger than you or I can fathom. She wants to know one truth about you and one only: Will you sacrifice for a better world for your children? Not the other way around.
But does Goddess want me to prove myself through obedient faith- enlisting Isaac in the PTM department- or through visionary refusal...
So dutiful and deferent were you at Sodom and Gomorrah.
Flashback to ABRAHAM and SARAH in college.
(Wearing a college sweatshirt, conversing looking up to unseen Goddess)
What! You’re gonna destroy the two cities Sodom and Gomorrah because everyone who lives there is evil? That’s like my ninth grade history teacher who said it was okay for us to atomic bomb Japan because the people there was so nationalistic that even civilians viewed themselves as combatants! You can’t fool me, Goddess, I’m fresh from History of U.S. Imperialism class.
(Goes to take SARAH’s hand)
Hang on my college boyfriend Abraham, I’m FaceTiming my family.
(Talking to her iPhone)
Why don’t you believe me that he’s Jewish? No, Abraham and I don’t participate in the college Hillel, but that’s not because we hate Jews or Jewishness. We hate the racism that Hillel promotes by erasing non-European Jewish cultures. We love Jews, and that includes Abraham’s north African ancestors. There’s more to our community than Klezmer and kugel.
Hagar, my other spouse who I have dispossessed along with our child...
(Holding baby, packing to leave)
How long have we sacrificed our children, and when did we start?
Think of Goddess as a parent. At first she wants you to learn what is right by doing what she says. But as you grow, she wishes for your self-reliant abilities to expand, so that you can healthily outlive her. Goddess will abandon you if you abandon your son Isaac to the military. Because a good parent does not thrust their child down a path; they empower the child to follow their own, by being there for the trivial and watershed moments alike, by not exiling the baby child with his mother into the desert–
Hagar, don’t make this political.
(To audience, open book in one hand)
Is it worse not to own a bible or to own a bible and not read it? Soon I will lose the easiness to impress people with my self-assuredness and intellect relative to my youth. When I pronounce a profound thought, older adults applaud me for performing, writing, achieving, at my age.
Isaac. We pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for your education, and you come home with blanket-statements saying all of God’s Emissaries are evil?
Will I, too, sacrifice my child to mind-numbing racist conditioning? Already I have let up moments to call out anti-Blackness in my social sphere.
Our Jewish ancestors came to America from Russia and Egypt escaping oppression. Your great uncle spent seven years in jail for being a communist, and what did that gain for Egypt? I need you to be safe. We can’t make you enlist in the PTM department, but we forbid you from opposing the state.
What will make them recognize the truth about America? If not our police killing hundreds of Black people a year, if not our massacres in Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan in their lifetimes alone, if not our murders of twenty trans women of color this year alone, when are these “liberal” Democrats going to move beyond Resistance t-shirts?
Your grandpa got drafted in 1953 and had to see four of his platoon mates die during training in a South Carolina swamp. Sure, the US should not have started the Korean War in the first place, but it is too painful for us as adults to admit that such American deaths have been, all along, entirely avoidable.
Isaac holds up finger as if to say, Wait a minute.
ETHAN talks with HIS DAD on the phone.
Hey Dad, it’s Ethan in real life. You wouldn’t do it, right?
Sacrifice you? One path you could take, since playwriting is your main creative channel, you could bring it to life through dialogue, act it out.
…But you wouldn’t do it, right? If God told you to?
I can’t say an answer, that’s kind of the point.
HAGAR leaves ABRAHAM and SARAH’S home.
And thank Goddess America sacrificed Isaac,
Again and again,
For the greater good.
For look at us now in 2017,
Everything is greater, and good.