There are many reasons that Dear Evan Hansen won a slew of Tony awards last Sunday night. Ben Platt is utterly astounding. The music is beautiful, sometimes gorgeous. But in my opinion the play is such a hit, and rightly won so many awards, because it asks deep and urgent questions about the human condition.
What about people who don’t fit in? What about our children who feel invisible, who live unnoticed? What happens to somebody’s interior life when they constantly feel down about
Where do we get the strength to do the stuff life requires of us? How does a single Mom raise a complicated child? What happens when we don’t feel we are enough, when we don’t think we have what it takes to make it through
If we disappeared one day, would anybody know or care? Are virtual communities real? Are on-line friends really
How do you mourn somebody who was super troubling in life? Connor takes his own life, and before doing that, he is extremely challenging to his family. Now that he is gone, how shall his sister Zoe mourn him? He did not seem to love her in life. What is her responsibility to him
These are all deeply human questions. They are also deeply Jewish questions, and Jewish sources have a lot to say about them.
In our last class of the year, we will hear four songs from the Dear Evan Hansen soundtrack (as we did at the beginning of the year with Hamilton), we will consider the meaning of the lyrics, and we will explore classic Jewish texts that bear on these timeless themes of what it means to be a human being, especially when the going gets tough.
For all those who attended class during the year, thank you!