Truth of a Cause first cast reading(Credit: Rafi Abramowitz)
Dress rehearsal (Credit: Rafi Abramowitz)
Truth of a Cause logo (Credit: created by Michelle Abramowitz)
Rafi Abramowitz: noun. 1. playwright 2. screenwriter 3. comedian 4. “The Rafshi,” as seen on Youtube
Moving frequently as a child, each time his father’s job relocated them, Rafi Abramowitz came to really appreciate writing and reading. He recently found a journal from when he was only 8 years old. As a teenager at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, he took a creative writing class and explored comedic poetry. While at Yeshivat Eretz HaTzvi for a gap year in 2009, he created his first character, “The Rafshi,” who wears an “angry rabbi face that scares a lot of kids.” The comedy act was a forum for him to shed light on his views of ultra-Orthodoxy and the closed-mindedness that he saw in some of its members. Abramowitz admitted, “It hurts to do that voice,” which is why he has not made a new video lately.
When Abramowitz reached Brandeis University, he went through difficult times. Diagnosed with depression, he “began to feel like two different people.” He explained, “Generally I was very happy, that was my personality, but a couple times a month I became very introverted and had no desire to do anything.” Therapy was not a concept he was comfortable with, and he was not eager to take medication. Instead, he funneled his frustration into playwriting, which was performed for the first time in New York last week. Writing Truth of a Cause became a therapeutic result of dealing with his depression. Abramowitz said, “I personified my two personalities and wrote a play pinning them against each other to have them work through their issues, my issues, using the magic of theater and comedy.” The play was directed by his older brother, Gadi Rubin, and co-directed by his younger brother, Zack Abramowitz.
At the time that he was writing the play, a good friend of his, Jonathan Roth, committed suicide. Abramowitz decided to dedicate the play in memory of his friend. The Roth family was able to attend on opening night, and told Abramowitz afterward that they “thought it really captured the struggles that people going through depression go through.”
The Midtown International Theatre Festival summarized his play as follows—“When a DIII baseball player gets a chance to play for Duke, he must choose between his dreams and his brother. Framed around a woman’s quest towards self-forgiveness, this dramatic-comedy tackles depression, love and family.” According to Abramowitz, “One of the goals of the play was to explore the distinct ways that people deal with depression.” Thus, the two main characters, Jason and Serena, each struggle with depression differently. Jason uses bitterness and disconnects, while Serena mopes and feels sorry for herself.
The performance was a hit. On opening night, July 25, tickets were completely sold out. Abramowitz said, “We needed to add an additional 13 seats! It was amazing.”
In addition to Truth of a Cause Abramowitz has many other writings. He is currently working on a novel, and his website (rafiabramowitz.com) has a compilation of his comedic and motivational writings. A separate tab titled “Jewish” contains Jewish-related writings and videos, including those of The Rafshi. He also has a blog, linked to on his website, on which he discusses issues that he believes need people’s attention.
Abramowitz encourages people to like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and check out his sites. He knows that using comedy may strike people as an ill choice, but he believes that because “the issues are so difficult, you have to use comedy” to help others understand.
Sara Linder is a JLNJ summer intern. She is a Teaneck resident and a student at the University of Maryland-College Park.