Dr. Yudelman’s Computer
Written by educator Leon Levenson, this book is a collection of plays for children that was written during Levenson’s years as a Sunday school teacher in Machar: The Washington DC Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism.
Visit IISHJ youth education resources for more Sunday School plays and other educational materials.
DOCTOR YUDELMAN’S COMPUTER
The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden is now a wondrous computer belonging to the mysterious Doctor Yudelman. Doctor Yudelman rescues amen and a woman from a city and gives them shelter in his home and garden. They are only forbidden to touch his computer. When they become curious, a servant named Flicker invites them to turn on the juice. The play is short and simple. In one school production the computer was a large box with a small child inside who operated lights and bells and whistles. Lots of fun.
RUTH AND NAOMI
Ruth’ story is a tale of virtue rewarded. This little vignette embellishes the meeting of handsome Boaz and Ruth. Naomi constantly urges Ruth to be more forward with her wealthy cousin. Ruth is shy and doesn’t want to impose.
SAUL IS CHOSEN
Here is a midrash on the prophet Samuel’s nomination of Saul, a shepherd from the small tribe of Benjamin to be king over all the Hebrew tribes at a time of great conflict with the Philistines. We see the action through the eyes of a set of skeptical villagers. We see Samuel as a bitter curmudgeon. And we meet Saul, not as the sad wreck he was later reduced to by Samuel and David, but as the man he seems to have been at the beginning, strong and brave, and not so dumb.
NO MORE MR. GOOD HAMAN
At Purim no one need be very serious. This play is in the tradition of retelling the Esther story with comic embellishments. The play takes place in ancient Shushan and retells much of the story but with the insertion of Billy, Silly, and Willy, three crazy teenaged cousins of Esther, who help her to unmask Haman. This play has a large cut and living props so everyone in the class can get involved.
HAMAN’S IN TOWN
This is in the tradition of Purim plays that are ridiculous and satirize the rabbi and other authority figures. So we have a typical North American family, the Weisenheimers, traveling back to ancient Persia where the escaped prisoner Haman hitches a ride on their space capsule back to our own time. He immediately attracts a following and runs for Congress. It takes a return trip to Shushan to bring Esther and King “Hazzy” back to get rid of him.
JUDAH AND SALOME
This Hanukka drama is based on the dangerous gulf that opened up between traditional Jews and those who had become Hellenized in the tumultuous era preceding the Maccabean revolt. The play uses a Romeo and Juliet theme. Salome, the daughter of a Hellenized family, and Judah Maccabee have known each other since childhood and are in love. Can such opposing spirits get married and raise a family? The play illustrates the difficulties but leaves the matter open, as it is to this day.
SHIMON THE STONECUUER SPEAKS TO THE QUEEN
We are in the final days of Judea’s existence as a free nation. Queen Salome Alexandra, the last of the Hasmonean dynasty and a friend of the common people, especially compared to the tyrants who preceded her, is the country’s ruler. The culture of the period is dominated by the conflict between the Sadducees, the “party” of the rich and powerful, including the priesthood, and the Pharisees, the “party” of the people. Shimon, a poor worker, is boiling over the wealth and prerogatives of the priestly class. As the queen passes through his town he comes before her with a specific request involving fair treatment of ordinary people. He stands up to a priest attending the queen and wins his point, but at a steep cost.
Hanukka is the background for the trials and anguish of a Jewish family in Russia during the late 1800’s. Because of terrible poverty and ever more threatening antisemitic incidents – a mild sample is included in the play – the parents must send their son and daughter alone to New York. With great humor and lots of love, and linking the trip to Hanukka gelt, the parents succeed in convincing the children to leave.