RISE is a modern rock musical that utilizes the ultimate music of rebellion to showcase the ultimate acts of resistance. Set in Eastern Europe at the height of the Holocaust, RISE tells a story of courage, loyalty, sacrifice, and love, focusing on a group of young women who work as spies, smugglers, and leaders of the underground Jewish resistance as they organize and wage an uprising against the Nazi regime.
Written and composed by American/Canadian/Israeli creator Joshua Daniel Hershfield, the first draft of RISE was written in 2019 at Haifa University under grant from the Azrieli Foundation as part of the M.A. in Holocaust Studies program. It was workshopped and showcased by the Alliance for Jewish Theatre in 2021, won the Bela Zarhi Prize from the Ghetto Fighters’ House, and was a Eugene O'Neill NMTC finalist. The first public production of RISE was July 9-17, 2022 at the Hart Theatre, CenterStage in Rochester, NY.
Further performances include Syracuse, NY, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel.
WHO WERE THE COURIERS?
The Kashariyot, or women couriers, were young Jewish women who were a part of the underground Jewish resistance movement during the Holocaust. Through a combination of looks, accents, and attitude they disguised themselves as non-Jews and traveled through Nazi territory under fake identities, risking their lives to carry out missions and help those in need.
When people in the ghettos were starving, the couriers brought them potatoes and bread. When there was no way for the imprisoned and isolated Jewish communities to communicate, the couriers carried letters and messages from place to place. They smuggled medicine, clothing, books, and they spread the word about the mass graves, the cattle cars, the death camps. When it was time for armed resistance, the couriers were the ones who smuggled weapons into the ghettos and armed the Jewish fighters.
Emanuel Ringleblum, the historian and archivist in the Warsaw Ghetto, said about the couriers: “These heroic girls… Boldly they travel back and forth through the cities and towns. They are in mortal danger every day. Without a murmur, without a moment of hesitation, they accept and carry out the most dangerous missions. Is someone needed? The girls volunteer as though it were the most natural thing in the world. They undertake the mission. Nothing stands in their way. Nothing deters them. How many times have they looked death in the eyes? How many times have they been arrested and searched? These girls are indefatigable.”
RISE is their story.