Free Dialogues on Diversity comedy play at Touro on Feb. 22

The Vallejo Times-Herald
by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

An African American and a Jew walk into a bar. ...

The Black-Jew Dialogues, A Multi-Cultural Comedy, presented at Touro University at noon on Thursday, Feb. 22, takes whatever you think comes after that line, and turns it into a lesson in ethnic relations in the United States, organizers said.

“What’s so funny about two American minorities that have slavery, the KKK, and chicken livers in common? That’s what you’ll find out in this extraordinary two-actor play on the history and absurdity of prejudice and racism and the power of diversity,” according to the play’s website. “The Black-Jew Dialogues combines fast-paced sketches, improvisations, multi-media, puppets and a game show to create a show that has gained praise across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. at universities, high schools, synagogues, and theaters.”

Described in a flyer as “a provocative and funny play,” to be performed at the Farragut Ballroom, along with lunch and a discussion, The Black-Jew Dialogues, is, “in a nutshell, the show’s organizers frame the series of short skits as a catalyst to reunite all of us, but Black and Jewish communities in particular in the U.S., as they share a history of pain, oppression, pride, and a deep commitment to civil rights and justice, using humor and great dialogue,” Touro Public Health Program Director Gayle Cummings said. “The Public Health Program hosted the same show last year and it was a great success with a lot of people requesting that we offer it again.” 

In piece, “Emmy-award winner Ron Jones and veteran performer Larry Jay Tish take the audience on a hysterical and poignant ride through three days they spent together in a cheap hotel room discussing their own experiences, the history of their people, and why there has been a growing rift between the two groups since the early 70’s,” the website says. “Through their dialogue the audience gains insight to the true nature of prejudice and how our inability to face our own biases separate us in ways that we may not even think about.” The play’s writers “find humor in everything,” and weave it into “an exhilarating and insightful look at the state of race and cultural relations in America. You learn as much as you laugh. Following each performance is a discussion with the audience, the site says. 

“Larry and Ron’s great hope in writing the show was to use it as a catalyst to reunite not only their people, but all of us,” it says. “The black and Jewish communities in America share a history of pain, oppression, pride, and a deep commitment to civil rights and justice. In the past several decades our communities have slowly drifted apart.”

From the inception of the NAACP to black newspapers being among the first in decrying the abuse of Jews in Nazi Germany, to the American Civil Rights movement, “blacks and Jews have been arm-in-arm in their fight for social justice,” the writer’s website says. “Through laughter, honesty, conversation (and a little nosh), The Black-Jew Dialogues is our attempt to revive this all-important union.” 

It’s free to attend, Thursday’s event at Touro, though RSVP is required, at, Cummings said, adding that she hopes those who attend come away with a better understanding of the issues.

“The Black-Jew Dialogues is an insightful look at the state of race and cultural relations in America,” she said. “The Public Health Program hopes the show will add to the cultural literacy of our community through the lens of history, humor and dialogue.”

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