Oud Player on the Tel staged reading and panel discussion

June 14, 2014
344 East 14th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
New York, NY 10003,
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Oud Player on the Tel, vaguely referential to Fiddler on the Roof, is a fictional tale of the displacement of the inhabitants of one Palestinian village in 1947, as the remnants of European Jewry come to the Holy Land to set up the modern State of Israel.  It shows not only the possibility of friendship and love between individual Jews and Muslims, but also how positive social and political opportunity can be overwhelmed by political realities.

The inspiration for this play comes from my own endeavors in the Jewish-Muslim peace world, working, among others, with Joseph Montville, founder of the Abrahamic Family Reunion Project.  Montville believes that acknowledgement – from both sides in a conflict – must come before forgiveness and resolution. This recognition must be of the “other’s” pain, loss and grievances, outside of the current political enmities.  It must be honest, open and humble.

As a Jewish artist and thinker, I have spent more than a decade working with Palestinian and Muslim peacemakers in just such an effort: acknowledging that I, as a Jew, am aware and respectful of their history and pain.  It is a first and vital step: that Muslims and Palestinians meet Jewish peacemakers who don’t simply want to “impose” peace, but share it.  Including the sorrow, the anguish, the wrongs and the often troubled history between the two, which must be overcome.

Oud Player on the Tel is conceived as the centerpiece of a multi-media exploration of the theme of Jewish-Muslim relations, leading toward acknowledgement and (hopefully) one more step toward peace in the Middle East.  The plan is to move through a developmental stage to a full, three-week or more production of the play.  In production, the full breadth of my work (as well as that of many other Jewish and Muslim peacemakers) would be accessed.

This play is being featured as part of the Jewish Plays Project series at the 14th Street Y, in New York's East Village.  It is being produced and directed by David Winitsky, and the reading will be followed by a talk-back with four Jewish and Muslim peace workers.


Sarah Sayeed, Ph.D has been involved in interfaith activities in New York City for more than a decade.  As Director of Community Partnerships, at the Interfaith Center of New York Sarah currently runs the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Retreats for Social Justice.  She is also a board member of  Women in Islam, Inc., a social justice and human rights volunteer organization dedicated to the empowerment of women through knowledge and practice of Islam.  Sarah earned a degree in Sociology and Near East Studies from Princeton University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.  She also holds a certificate in Reconciliation Leadership through the Institute for Global Leadership.  Sarah's work at the Interfaith Center of New York and with Muslim communities is featured in an online exhibit of the Tribute World Trade Center Visitor Center, titled “Renewing Our American Dream after 9/11.”

Joseph Montville is director of the Program on Healing Historical Memory, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University.  He is also director of the Abrahamic Family Reunion, the Esalen Institute project to promote Muslim-Christian-Jewish reconciliation.  And he is also Senior Adviser on Interfaith Relations at Washington National Cathedral, and a Distinguished Diplomat in Residence at American University. Montville founded the preventive diplomacy program at Washington, DC’s  Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1994 and directed it until 2003. In 2008, the International Society of Political Psychology gave Montville its Nevitt Sanford Award for “distinguished professional contribution to political psychology,” at its 31st annual scientific meeting in Paris.

Jacob Bender is the first American Jew ever to lead an American Muslim organization, as director of the Philadelphia office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).  Jacob has spent more than thirty years as a documentary filmmaker and interfaith consultant, among other things. During the many years he lived in Israel, he worked as an audiovisual producer at Yad Vashem, as well as for the Israel Ministry of Education, and met and worked with most of the important figures on the Israeli left.  After the attack of September 11th, Jacob embarked on making the film Out of Cordoba. Released in 2010, this award-winning film tells the story of Muslim Spain and the coexistence there of Muslims, Christians, and Jews.  Bender also helped initiate interfaith dialogue with the American Muslim community, and has spoken at interfaith conferences around the Middle East.  He has been profiled on al-Jazeera as an important voice in positive Jewish-Muslim relations.

Oud Player

Rabbi Zach Fredman  serves as rabbi and music director at the New Shul, a downtown (NY) community which envisions how ancient and modern wisdoms can create a place for thriving Jewish investigation and congregation.  In 2011, Zach founded The Epichorus – a band seeking to return Jewish prayer music, to the sounds of the Arabic east and North Africa.  With traditional Arabic instruments, a Sudanese master songstress, and a heavy dose of global percussion they are creating a new sound in world music carrying listeners at once to a Tunisian marketplace in festival season or a yoga class in the village.  Zach has taken pointed interest in the wisdoms of world religions.  He is comfortable teaching Buddhism and Sufism alongside Midrash and Jewish text.  Zach was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2013.