Encino : Students Dedicate Their Play to Rabin

The Valley Beth Shalom student play “Jerusalem 3000" wasn’t intended to be about slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

But so tightly intertwined are the histories of modern-day Jerusalem and Rabin that play director Nili Ziv knew she couldn’t separate them at the drama’s Tuesday debut.

When Rabin was assassinated Saturday, Ziv said, the musical drama about the holy city’s first 3,000 years of existence naturally evolved into a tribute to the soldier turned peacemaker. After all, Rabin was born and buried in the Israeli capital.

Jerusalem, which literally means “city of peace,” is a place “that symbolizes all that Rabin aspired to--to have a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbors,” Ziv said.


Within three days, the play that instructed 1,000 Jewish day school students about their history became a lesson in emotion as well.

Ziv’s giddy students--who danced, sang, giggled and cavorted in costume during most of the performance--became somber when Rabin’s name was invoked.

Before the play, the students, costumed as soldiers and peasants, solemnly sang “Shiru Shir La Shalom,” the same peace song Rabin sang before his assassination.

Some of the 50 student-actors publicly explained the significance of the leader’s death as the play drew to a close.

“All communities are called on to unite in peace in the city of peace,” a purple- and-gold-swathed Aliya Phillips urged the audience.

The play, explained 11-year-old Suzanne Reznikoff, was dedicated to Rabin.

“We think that things will never be the same without Rabin, because he was such a great guy and a Jewish hero,” Reznikoff said.

As the play ended, the sixth-grade actors quieted and stood at attention as drama director Kenny Ellis blew the shofar.

No one spoke while the plaintive wail of the ram’s horn echoed throughout the auditorium.

The moan of the shofar, Ziv said, is “a call for unity and solidarity.”