April 25, 2002
Israel Brings ‘Flowers’ to L.A.
As headlines continue to focus on political violence in Israel, a Los Angeles-born Israeli will perform her monologue about a very different kind of violence: spousal abuse.
Naomi Ackerman arrives at Shomrei Torah Synagogue April 28 with "Flowers Aren't Enough," the wrenching story of an affluent young woman whose relationship deteriorates into savage abuse. After the 50-minute piece -- sponsored by the Israeli consulate for Los Angeles' sexual assault awareness month -- the 38-year-old artist will conduct a question-and-answer session about domestic violence.
Ackerman, a professional clown who made aliyah at age 9, admits she didn't know much about the issue when the Jerusalem Ministry of Welfare commissioned her to write the piece four years ago. Yet, she immediately identified with the victims she interviewed at a Jerusalem safe house: "Until I met my husband, I'd had a lot of really bad relationships," she says. "I thought back on the choices I'd made and wondered, 'Why did I put up with so much b.s.?'"
Her ensuing play proved so powerful that it extensively toured Israel, though Ackerman initially suffered an emotional toll. "I'd be so upset that I'd continue crying into the audience discussion and give out my home number," she says. "I really had to learn to separate myself from the character."
Since then, she's performed "Flowers" in Australia, New Zealand, India and the United States, where, she notes, "Jewish victims feel more convinced it's their fault because of the stereotype that Jewish men don't hit."
But while some male viewers have been defensive during post-play discussions, Ackerman's never encountered any anti-Israel bias. "People are grateful that the Foreign Ministry is sponsoring the piece," she says. "There's so much negativity in the news now about Israel, but with the play we're saying, 'Let's pause for a moment and focus on something Israel is doing right.'"
For information about the Shomrei Torah performance, call (818) 346-0811.