Jew for Hire

Shawn Shafner
November 9, 2012
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Show me the money, I’ll shomer shabbat.

What kind of Jew are you looking for?

I swing from Renewal to Orthodox and

My havdalah is spiced to the core.


Or it can be mild if you want that from me.

I mean, to serve your community.

I aim to please.

I’ll bend my knees

And bow to our ancestral deity.


It’s not that I don’t believe; I do,

Though our versions may vary in tone.

The skeletons of our tradition might match

But not always the flesh on the bone.


Friday night, I’m usually drinkin’ with friends

Sans blessings for bread or for wine,

But I’ll lecha the dodi at your shul

For just $99.99.


I’m not just a Jew, I’m a pro, as you’ll see

When I sign my emails “b’shalom.”

I’m grateful for work—a job is a job—

So if you’ll keep me fed and with home


Then I’ll shoulder the tallis and teach you the text,

B’reishit to dear Moses’ end.

A Jew that’s for hire

Through black and white fire,

An actor who’s paid to pretend.

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Shawn Shafner is a theatre-maker, educator, and creator of The People's Own Organic Power Project (, an arts and education organization that promotes critical conversations about sustainable sanitation for the person, planet and world community. He is the recipient of a 2005 Spielberg Fellowship, and has been creating original ritual theater and educational programs with Storahtelling ever since. Shawn has created and facilitated educational programs for all ages, from early childhood audiences to elderly populations. He is currently artist-in-residence at the JCC Manhattan Preschool, works with underprivileged NYC school students as a teaching artist with Arts for All, and writes curriculum for Think-Build-Live Success, a self-empowerment, life skills and employment preparation program in career colleges. Shawn holds a BFA in Drama from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and has trained as an actor in Russia at the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, the Institute for Contemporary Art in London, and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy. He spent most of 2008 touring nationally as Pablo in Nickelodeon's The Backyardigans Live!, and his NYC acting credits include performances at Madison Square Garden, Theater Row, Joe's Pub, The Club at La Mama, and Classic Stage Company.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Shawn for this Seuss-ish, truth telling poem. I am particularly struck by the last line, and know all too well the lies and compromises of the soul that are so often demanded of Jewish communal professionals. I look forward to a time of healing when our community will again reflect the teachings that were given to us at Sinai, reminding us that we are all here together, receiving the gift of Torah as equals.

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