The Forbidden Conversation

A new autobiographical one-man performance exploring the difficulty of having a conversation about Israel in the American Jewish community. 

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Actor and Photographer Gili Getz presents a deeply personal one-man performance that explores the challenges of having a conversation about Israel in the American Jewish community.

Powerful play! A well-constructed experience for opening up the “forbidden conversation
— Rabbi Reuven Greenvald, Director of Israel Engagement, URJ
As Israel becomes an increasingly divisive issue among American Jews, conversations about Israel now frequently degenerate into bitter arguments and angry accusations. In his powerful and poignant play “The Forbidden Conversation” Gili Getz addresses this issue head-on, with candor, wit, and passion. Anyone who has argued about Israel, or simply struggled to talk about it, will surely relate to and be moved by Gili’s experience
— Professor Dov Waxman - Northeastern University - the author of Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel
The Forbidden Conversation” should be required watching for everyone. In a skillful and impassioned presentation, photographer/actor Gili Getz connects to his audience’s minds and hearts, as he explores the difficulty so many have when talking about Israel... Mr. Getz engages the listener, not in a polemic, but in an earnest plea to talk to, and listen to, the many voices across the spectrum. He encourages each of us to wrestle with Israel’s future, the necessity of open and respectful dialogue, and the state of the relationship between American Jews and our Israeli cousins.
— Rabbi Beth D. Davidson, Temple Adath Yeshurun NH
His deliverance of the performance was artful and moving, as he layered in poetic repetition, onomatopoeia and emotion... He created essentially an open forum, asking audience members to come forth with their own experiences having these difficult conversations about Israel
— The Daily Campus
Thank you to Gili Getz, Hillel student life staff and the many Jewish Bruins who showed up for this special event last week in an ongoing endeavor to hold space for multitudes of opinions and ease tension through active engagement and conversation.
— Hillel at UCLA
“When it comes to a topic which is clearly, and understandably, very difficult for people to talk about, I can see how hosting a performance like Getz’s can be extremely helpful in promoting discussion and illustrating how to engage with this issue in a nuanced way. “
— Johns Hopkins University News
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to weigh on our local and national community, and Getz’s performance opened up a forum that began to free the tension students experience.
— The Davidsonian
the conversation continued in class with thoughts, questions, emotions. If you can bring Gili to perform at your institution, do it!
— Jeremy Pressman Associate Professor of Political Science, Director of Middle East Studies - UConn
Gili Getz’s Forbidden Conversation performance allowed me to re-examine my internal struggle when it comes to Israel and reminded me how important that I maintain a constructive Israel dialogue with my children. I will be forever grateful for this experience.
— Paul Warhit, Past President Temple Israel of New Rochelle and of the Westchester Jewish Council
“Hearing a story can be like walking on holy ground. When Gili performs his play, I feel like I am walking on Holy Ground.”
— Rabbi Zachary Zysman Campus Rabbi/Director of Jewish Life/LMU Hillel
At a time when, for American Jews, talking about Israel is so fraught and contentious Gili Getz’s Forbidden Conversation actually facilitates the conversation. His deft, rich and gripping portrayal of the difficulties in discussing Israel promises to make such discussions more likely, more civil and more productive.
— Professor Steven M. Cohen - Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
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About the play

While visiting Israel during the last Gaza war in 2014, Gili experienced difficulty talking about the path Israel is on with his father for the first time in his life. Finding himself in a forbidden conversation with his dad, and worried that it might strain their relationship, Gili embarked on a journey to understand the most complex, sensitive and contentious topic in the Jewish community — Israel. Having come of age politically while serving as a military photographer during the turbulent Oslo accords and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Gili turned to photography, hoping it would help him once again make sense of a painful political argument. The result is “The Forbidden Conversation,” developed during the artist fellowship LABA (Laboratory for Jewish culture) at the 14th Street Y, and premiered at the Center For Jewish History in the spring of 2016. The play has as been performing in Jewish spaces across the country since.


The performance is followed by an open discussion about the challenging conversations we have with family, friends and our community concerning the future of Israel, the American Jewish community and ways to process fundamental differences and disagreements.

Share your love and pride, your disappointment and shame. All opinions are welcome.

In conversation with Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein

In conversation with Rabbi Shira Koch Epstein


Gili Getz is an Israeli-American actor, photojournalist and activist. He served as a military photographer for the IDF and as a news editor for Ynet. His work in recent years has been focusing on American Jewish politics and he is published regularly in Jewish and Israeli press, and by Princeton University in the book "Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel" by Professor Dov Waxman.

Since graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic arts Gili has performed across the country in numerous theatrical productions and was the recipient of the Kirk Douglas scholarship. Favorite roles include Off-Off Broadway Gall in R.U.R, Off Broadway Flushed in Retzach, Orion in Skin & Teeth for which he was nominated for Best Actor in a Drama (Artistic Director’s Award), Astroglide/That’s What (as Man), which he also wrote, Lieutenant in The Broadway Play, Thalberg in Garbo’s Cuban Lover and in the New York premiere of Steel Tower. Regional theatre roles include George in Of Mice and Men at the Roxy Regional Theatre (TN) as well as Hamlet and the Bea[u]tiful in the Extreme. He has directed and acted in the critically acclaimed production of The Forgotten Carols for the past ten years.

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