Mercer Island’s SJCC to premiere original play ‘Rachel Calof’

“Rachel Calof,” a play with music, premieres in the Pacific Northwest for one performance only at 2 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Mercer Island’s Stroum Jewish Community Center.

The play is based on a memoir by Calof written completely in Yiddish. Calof was a Jewish immigrant bride and a homesteader in the Great Plains from 1894-1904. She also lived in Seattle, spending the final years of her life working with organizations to assist Jewish women immigrants. She was a member of Herzl-Ner Tamid Synagogue on Mercer Island, across the street from the Stroum JCC where the play will be performed.

The show features critically acclaimed television and stage actress Kate Fuglei in the title role. Fuglei powerfully enacts Calof’s courage to come to a new land, her sense of humor, her capacity to endure brutal hardships and her quest for a home of her own.

Written when she was 55 living in St. Paul, Calof’s memoir is a vital record of Jewish struggle and triumph on the American frontier. Her children discovered the manuscript after her death, and Indiana University Press published it in 1995.

The book was adapted for the stage by Ken LaZebnik. The play won Best Musical at the United Solo Festival in 2015, the world’s largest solo theater festival.

Tickets are $15, $10 for SJCC members/seniors/youth and can be purchased by visiting