Every May 8, Sherri Mandell and her family visit a desert cave in Tekoa, Israel, where they spend the night. In this case, “family” is only as real as a mother’s memories and as imaginary as the departure of a human soul—for on May 8, 2001, Mandell’s 13-year-old son Koby was murdered in that grotto in an act attributed to Palestinian terrorists. Life’s somewhat more manageable now, with Mandell a reasonable distance from her descent into “a labyrinth so dark you can’t even see your hand.”
That hand is one of two that cranked out The Blessing of a Broken Heart, the book from which that quote was taken. Todd Salovey, San Diego Repertory Theatre artistic director, saw fit to adapt Mandell’s work for the local stage in 2007 as a workshop production and took it on several tours—and on Tuesday, June 5, the show will play as part of the 19th annual Lipinsky Family Jewish Festival of the Arts, which features theater, art, music and dance from several cultures.
Mandell’s book and its stage adaptation are remarkably devoid of Middle East politics—the story is a simple recounting of Koby’s life and the spearhead for The Koby Mandell Foundation, designed to help others cope with the loss of a loved one. The theater had an extraordinary role in the creation of this public service—and on June 5, it will reaffirm its place as the living library of our sometimes unbearably tragic life stories. For more information, please see sdrep.org and click on the link for festival details, or call 619-544-1000.