Iris Karlin

This project started as my Thesis project at Hebrew Union College institute of religion. To explore Midrashei Yehudit. In no time, I have heard my calling. To bring this story to the world. Now, more than ever, to voice the pain of the women, and to give kavod (respect) for a true hero, Yehudit, whose audacity, and bravery, banned her from the Jewish culture for generations. I was mindblown that most Jews don't have any knowledge of Yehudit's story, nor her connection to Chanukkah, nor about the details of the change to the matrilineal lineage. It seems so important for us, and yet, Yehudit's voice had been silenced for so long... 

Every aspect of the story fascinated me, and I compared all the different versions of the scroll, to explore deeply the rooted differences, and build upon that knowledge, a new adaptation, that will adhere to the Jewish elements, that are missing in the Christian scriptures. A challenging aspect was the lack of characteristics of the characters. I wanted to give each character a world of meaning. To make them real, and depict them in a way that reflects and resonates with a wide variety of people. Shomer-et Israel, the guardian, is non-binary, and both Bagoas, Holofernes' attendee, and Bat-El, Yehudit's maid are LGBTQ. 

Yehudit's project is a commitment to bring Yehudit’s voice and heroic deeds out of historical obscurity. But also a mission to voice the voiceless, and give a name, a face, and a place to other characters that were left in obscurity.


The First Modern Chazzanut Opera