The Merchant of Venice from a Jewish Perspective: A Post-Show Panel Discussion

The Merchant of Venice from a Jewish Perspective:  A Post-Show Panel Discussion

Sunday, April 8

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM (approx.)

Panelists: Director Desdemona Chiang, Rabbi Will Berkovitz, CEO of Jewish Family Service, and Rivy Poupko Kletenik, Head of School, Seattle Hebrew Academy

Anti-Semitism, oppression, and stereotyping are alive and well, now as in Shakespeare’s time. How can we approach the challenges presented in Merchant as Jews and people who care about confronting prejudice of any kind? Join us for a deeper look into the play with our director and two esteemed leaders of Seattle’s Jewish community.


Desdemona Chiang

Directing credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Theater, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory Company, Long Wharf Theatre, ACT Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Aurora Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Azeotrope, Impact Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, Golden Thread Productions, Washington Ensemble Theatre, One Minute Play Festival, Ohio Northern University, among others. Adjunct Faculty, Cornish College of the Arts. Awards/ Affiliations: Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Theatre, SDC Gielgud Directing Fellowship, Drama League Fellowship, TCG Young Leader of Color, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. Gregory Award Recipient for Outstanding Direction. BA: University of California at Berkeley. MFA Directing: University of Washington School of Drama.


Rabbi Will Berkovitz

Berkovitz is responsible for the vision and strategic direction of Jewish Family Service. His responsibilities include program oversight and mobilization of philanthropic, volunteer and advocacy support to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals and families in the Puget Sound region.

Before coming to JFS, Berkovitz was Senior Vice President and Rabbi in Residence at Repair the World. He developed partnership initiatives with organizations across the United States. Prior to Repair the World, Berkovitz served as Rabbi and Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Washington and Jconnect Seattle. In those capacities, he was instrumental in making innovative, post-college programming and Jewish service-learning pillars of the organization.

Berkovitz is a graduate of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He is a contributor to The Washington Post, the HuffPost and The Seattle Times. He also serves as a Leap of Reason Ambassador. Berkovitz has lived in Israel, England and several cities around the United States. He has led immersive service experiences around the world.


Rivy Poupko Kletenik

Poupko Kletenik is Head of School at the Seattle Hebrew Academy. She has published countless articles on Judaism, and writes a monthly Jewish advice column for Seattle’s The Jewish Sound called JQ. Poupko Kletenik is a sought-after lecturer throughout the community and nationwide on all things Jewish.

The community has recognized her efforts. She was awarded the American Jewish Press Association first prize award for commentary in 2001 and the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in 2002. Poupko Kletenik was honored as Distinguished Alumna at Touro College and was the 2006 Seattle Hadassah Honoree.