Three years ago, Evelyn Goldfinger, a student at the Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, asked a friend who worked at Hillel Argentina, "What are you doing there?" Among many things, her friend said, she was looking for someone to organize a tzedek (social justice) project involving the arts. Goldfinger, whose passion lies in theater and music, jumped at the chance, and the Musical Theater for Children Company at Tzedek Hillel was born.
Since then, the theater company, comprising students and young professionals in Buenos Aires, has brought smiles and laughter to hundreds of underprivileged children in Argentina. The troupe has performed at social-service organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, schools, parks and community centers, offering children an escape from the difficulties at home and, for some, their first exposure to the arts.
"It's not only with money that you can do tzedek," Goldfinger said. "For these kids, nobody would think of a cultural or artistic program, but they are amazed. It just touches their souls – and yours."
Goldfinger notes that the program also offers young adults, who often don't have much money to donate, another way to make a difference in their communities.
"You help others just by doing something you love," she said.
The company, which varies in size throughout the year, rehearses every Sunday for four hours under Goldfinger's direction. She also has written the three plays it has performed, such as this year's "El Vestido Real" ("The Royal Gown"), which is based on the classic children's story "The Emperor's New Clothes." Besides a cast of actors, the company requires musicians, set designers, costume designers, make-up artists and publicists, so everyone who is interested can play an active role and pick up new skills.
"It's great because you feel like you're learning constantly," Goldfinger said.
Now studying at William Paterson University in New Jersey this semester, Goldfinger would like to help Hillels in the United States establish similar troupes. She has offered to translate her plays in English and provide the musical score to other students who want to share their love for theater with children.
"In America there are many people involved in theater, so why not mix tzedek with it?" she said. "It's really amazing what you get out of this for just doing what you love. It's so rewarding."
Interested in learning more about "El Vestido Real" and other company productions? Contact Evelyn Goldfinger at email@example.com.