By Melissa Griegel . . .

The Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place, New York) brought the award-winning picture book When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street to life with a concert reading of a new musical based on the book. The book is written by Elsa Okon Rael and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, whose illustrations were shown as backdrops on the stage. This new musical version combines music by composer Matthew Gandolfo and director and lyricist Shellen Lubin.

Jordan Charney, Annabelle Watchel
Scott Harrison

The story focuses on the relationship between a bright, inquisitive young girl on the Lower East Side of New York City in 1935 learning about her Jewish heritage and trying to develop a relationship with her grandfather “Zaydeh” whom she finds to be very stern and is scared to approach. While her mom and dad are at the hospital giving birth to her new baby brother, her grandmother “Bubbeh” and her Aunt Trina convince Zeesie to go to shul with Zaydeh for Simchat Torah in an effort to develop their relationship. Although it has some bumps in the road, Zaydeh begins to warm up when his granddaughter asks him questions about the Torah and why Torah is important.

Jacob Harran- Samantha Helmstetter – Joanne Halev

The cast features veteran actor Jordan Charney (Ghostbusters, Hill Street Blues) as Zaydeh and Annabelle Watchel as Zeesie (School of Rock). The cast is rounded out with Joanne Halev as Bubbeh, Jacob Harran as narrator and Zalman, Scott Harrison as Papa and Hattison, and Samantha Helmstetter as Mama and Aunt Trina.

There is a performance today, Sunday, November 20th at 2:00 pm which will also be livestreamed.

For tickets go to:

When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, regrant program supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and administered by LMCC.

Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography