In his 2018 Tony acceptance speech, Yemeni Jewish actor Ari’el Stachel admitted something.
“For so many years of my life, I pretended I was not a Middle Eastern person,” Stachel said, through tears, explaining that the struggles of being a person of color in post-9/11 America caused him to conceal his identity.
Going on, he ended with a message of inspiration: “I want any kid who is watching to know that your biggest obstacle may turn into your purpose.”
Four years later, it seems that Ari’el Stachel has taken his own advice.
Yesterday, Ari’el announced the launch of “Other,” his video-podcast series which will explore just how diverse and powerful identities labeled as “other” can be.
“This is going to be a journey, partially to share some of my people’s stories as a Jew of color, but I want to expand far beyond my own experience. I want to use this as an opportunity to hear other people’s stories,” he said in the Instagram announcement.
In the first episode, which is titled “Jews of Color,” Ari’el sits down with Iraqi-Israeli actor Sasson Gabai (they met as cast mates in “The Band’s Visit” on Broadway) to discuss the struggles of immigrating to Israel as an Iraqi Jew, assimilating into the predominantly Ashkenazi society and how Gabai navigates his identity today.
The 34-minute conversation is a beautiful and necessary tribute to Mizrahi Jewishness and includes revelations from Gabai like in the clip below (though you can listen to the full clip here):
Mazels on the launch of your podcast, Ari’el, and thank you for using your platform to center Jews of color. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the important stories you and your guests bring to “Other.”