A matchmaker schools a young woman on how to make gefilte fish for a potential mate. A high school girl plans her future: balancing Shabbat preparations with her duties as Madam President.
These and other voices make up Shula Rosen’s Women of Valor, a collection of monologues performed under the title “Chareidi Women Speak” at Jerusalem’s Stage One Festival last spring. Rosen—the pseudonym used by this breakout playwright and fiction writer—studied theater at Kenyon College, Oxford, and at HB Studio in New York before becoming religious. Inspired by Eve Ensler and Anna Deavere Smith, Rosen based characters on friends and women she read about, looking to present a range of Orthodox women’s perspectives not often shown in the media. “None of these women want out of their lives,” she says.
A rich spectrum of Orthodox life also informs Rosen’s short fiction and a novel-in-progress. Religious women, she says, appreciated seeing characters like themselves in Women of Valor. Perhaps they identified with the dreams of Chana, the high school student, who says as she leaves for a baseball game, “Maybe I’ll catch a fly ball and have it autographed. Or maybe I’ll sign my own name.”