weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Bibliodrama steps into Bible characters to increase understanding

Rabbi Benjamin Katz used a bibliodrama as an additional method of improving understanding of the Bible during a recent gathering of the Active Adults 55 Plus group at Temple Beth Sholom.

A bibliodrama is a form of role-playing in which the roles are taken from biblical texts. It essentially analyzes a story while giving people a chance to better understand the Bible and their faith.

In Katz’s presentation, the role playing concerned the Book of Jonah, one of the prophets in the Bible. A small collection of attendees participated by reacting through the eyes of Jonah and a group of sailors.

Katz’s first choice for the 55 Plus group was supposed to be the story of King David, but time wouldn’t permit.

“I just didn’t have the time to prepare for the Book of David,” explained Katz. “I wanted to drop people into the story and needed more work, so the Book of Jonah was the ideal replacement.

“I knew the story pretty well because we read it on the afternoon during Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.”

The Book of Jonah teaches a lesson of God’s mercy. The prophet disobeys God’s command to preach repentance in Ninevah, and the ship he is on runs into a fierce storm. Jonah is thrown into the sea in the hopes of stopping the storm and is swallowed by a large fish, commonly described as a whale. He asks for forgiveness and is given another chance to complete his task. He succeeds in getting the people of Ninevah to change their ways, but is disappointed because he considers them his enemy. He is in for another lesson as God teaches him about mercy.

The book was broken into four parts for the bibliodrama. During each part of the story, the participants stood in the shoes of the characters, expressing the feelings of those who were often facing life or death dilemmas.

“I knew the story and got a lot out of it because we were encouraged to take the place of the people in the story,” said Michael Kantor, 74. “It was as though we were the crew on the ship. A bibliodrama teaches you to have empathy about what was going on. So many things in the Bible are unanswered and through the bibliodrama, we’re better able to remember and appreciate the story.”

Iris Fieldman Marks, a member of the 55 Plus board, also lauded the presentation.

“I thought it was terrific,” Marks said. “It really helped us step into the characters and understand the motivation and their feelings. In fact, I have spent the past couple of days thinking about the story, so that shows you how much it affected me.

“We would love for Bennie to lead a bibliodrama performance at least once a year.”

Rabbi Eitan Weiner-Kaplow, a resident of Skokie, Ill., said bibliodrama is also utilized in the Midwest.

“It’s a way to get in touch with the characters in the Bible and imagining ourselves in the same situation,” Weiner-Kaplow said. “You have wonderful conversations about how you would react to certain situations. New understandings will come from time to time while people process the experience. There is great psychology that goes into the experience and the insights that will result from it.

“This is a real specialty. I will use elements of the techniques. It is very powerful and very useful with the real issues of their lives.”

Bibliodrama was introduced in 1984 by Peter A. Pitzele, who headed the psychodrama department at a residential psychiatric hospital in New York, and his wife, Susan. The technique fit well into the Jewish concept of midrash, which also focuses on interpreting biblical stories to increase understanding. The Pitzele’s work has been shared in hundreds of Jewish and other religious congregations in the United States, Europe and Israel.

A native of Nashville, Katz has a master of fine arts degree in theater from the University of Iowa and directed plays in New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. He began studies to become a rabbi in 2000 and was ordained in 2009. He serves as assistant rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom.

Kantor has embraced the usefulness of the bibliodrama. “I love to learn and this kind of presentation gets us all involved in the topic or the individual.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
United Methodists edge toward breakup over LGBT policies

There’s at least one area of agreement among conservative, centrist and liberal leaders in the United Methodist Church: America’s largest mainline Protestant denomination is on a path toward likely breakup over differences on same-sex marriage and ordination of LGBT pastors.

Iconic Salt Lake Temple closing for major 4-year renovation

An iconic temple central to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith will close for four years for a major renovation to help it withstand earthquakes and be more welcoming to visitors, leaders said Friday.

Devotees nailed to crosses on Good Friday in Philippines

Several Roman Catholic devotees were nailed to wooden crosses in a gory Good Friday ritual in the Philippines, and others flogged themselves or took part in religious plays to reenact Jesus Christ’s suffering.