Castleton alum’s journey for peace

You can’t shake hands through a wall.

Of all the words spoken by David Kaye, “the Jew from Vermont,” during his one-man “tragicomedy” titled “How I Brought Peace to the Middle East,” this line stuck with me the most.

Possibly because he said it with so much emotion, but more likely because it hits home today with the talk of President Trump’s plan to build a border wall along Mexico. It sent a message that the only way to make peace is to work together, not to separate ourselves.

He also included a scene detailing how a man he met in Israel talked with him about the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, a major theme in the show. The man pointed out the way America treats our native people. He notes that they haven’t caused conflict, because we killed them or put them on reservations. But what if they started bombing Chicago? How would we react?

We have our native people fighting in North Dakota now as we once again try to take over their land. But they aren’t seen as legitimate threats by the government, just people to be moved by the police and military.

The show is based on a true story of his six-month trip to Israel with his wife and two daughters on a sabbatical. While in Israel he intended to visit a theater near the Gaza strip run by a friend of his who was half-Jewish and determined to use the arts to bring peace. Unfortunately, his friend was killed before he could visit, and his regret of not visiting the theater anyway was clear.

The themes in the show were incredibly relevant, but also humorous, as Kaye explains that he felt only Jew-ish, rather than a completely a Jew while growing up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and unsure of his purpose in Israel. Kaye is a Castleton alum and now teaches theater at the University of New Hampshire.

While the topics are heavy, the show was humorous with many references to Jewish culture and current events such as calling himself a gefilte fish out of water. He also used accents to represent the countless other characters in the show including Palestinians, a young child, a woman from South America, his wife, daughters and friends they met in Israel.

The set consisted of two chairs and a suitcase, which in the end, the audience finds out is filled with rocks. Throughout the show the audience wonders how he will bring peace to the Middle East and in the end while in a canyon, he makes a peace sign out of the rocks.

Although his mission was to bring peace to the Middle East, he instead found it, and hopes that others would find that same peace when they take the time to come down into the canyon and see his sign. 

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