'Moses Man' tells story of Holocaust survivor

05:00 AM, Mar 27, 2013

'Moses Man,' the story of a Rochester Holocaust survivor, opens this weekend at JCC. (Photo provided by Rochester Children's Theatre)/

Written By David McGroarty-Manley | Staff writer

If you go

Moses Man.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and April 6; 2 p.m. Sunday and April 7; 7 p.m. April 4.
Where: Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton.
Cost: $26; $18 for seniors; $15 for middle and high school students.
Tickets: (585) 461-2000 or JCCCenterStage.org.

Deborah Haber and Casey Filiaci’s last collaboration, Sweet House, was inspired by Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity.

Their latest, Moses Man, is much more personal.

The production, which will be presented for the first time this weekend and next at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, is based on the real-life events that happened to Haber’s late father, Kalman Haber, a Holocaust survivor.

This story is really a tale of survival, courage and perseverance to get through a horrific time in history,” says Haber, who also is directing. “It is a story of one man, but we want to present it as a much broader story — not just this journey but the journey that happens always around us.”

Haber, director of Rochester Children’s Theatre, felt she had to take the time to write her father’s story.

I wanted to attempt to make this project happen before I didn’t have (my mother) anymore, so it became almost an urgent project,” Haber says. “I thought, ‘No more waiting; the time is now.’ “

Haber also wanted to collaborate with composer and studio musician Fialaci again. Sweet House! retold the story of Hansel & Gretel.

If I tell you something, you know what I’m saying, you hear it and can understand it, but it’s two-dimensional, because you don’t know what I’m feeling,” Fialaci says. “I could tell you I’m in love, I could tell you I’m feeling mad, but music makes you feel that. Then you know what I’m feeling.”

That philosophy is why Haber made Moses Man is a musical.

Productions such as Les Miserables are referenced when discussing the effectiveness of musical presentations of serious subject matter similar to the events presented in Moses Man.

We mention Les Miserables because we want that immediate identification of a serious musical,” Haber says. “The emphasis is very serious, but we do have lighter moments in it, and we want people to identify with that type of musical where the subject is not lighthearted.”

Haber and Fialaci feel that it is important for the current generation and younger generations to educate themselves on the Holocaust now, because there are so few survivors still living. The lessons learned from the Holocaust may never be told to this magnitude once the survivors are gone.

In short, Moses Man, a joint production of Rochester Children’s Theatre and JCC CenterStage, offers a firsthand account of one man’s testimony as a survivor searching for the light during one of the darkest periods in history.

It’s a journey from beginning to end,” Fialaci says. “We hope that when you come out of it, you will have perspective and maybe even some perspective on your own life and what is humanly possible. Whatever is thrown at you, you have to deal with it — we are all going to have our own journeys.”