Who’s Afraid of the Jewish Mother?


Communication Cabaret with Jenny Simanowitz



Jenny Simanowitz’ “Communication Cabaret”, delightfully witty as it is, is also a homage to the Jewish mother, and to people who have to fight for their dignity and their identity in a strange and often hostile world.





 “The Jewish mother” is a colourful character developed mainly by her sons, who were writing for Broadway and Hollywood in the early twentieth century. As such she can almost be viewed as a projection of a predominantly patriarchal society. There are hundreds of jokes based on her behaviour - her possessiveness, her self-pity, and her almost obsessive involvement with her children. However, her story is also one of courage and strength; it was the mother who at  times of great uncertainty and transition held the family together, giving the emotional support and inspiration  needed by immigrants who often found themselves living in poverty and prejudice.


Jenny Simanowitz was brought up in a non-religious Jewish family in South Africa. Her grandparents had fled there from the pogroms in Eastern Europe. She herself left South Africa when she was 20 because she did not want to live under the apartheid system.

In Austria she became known for her communication cabarets - a mixture of stand-up, theatre and consciousness-raising.

Her shows up till now have dealt with a wide range of social topics including gender roles (“Sex & Business” and “We are Woman”), intercultural communication (“Good Vibrations”) and the trials and tribulations of growing old (“Courage”).

Her personal experience in Vienna has shown her that the history of the Jews in Austria is still a dark capital and is largely unknown and that the topic is often met with guilt feelings, defensiveness or lack of interest.

One of the main aims of this production is to try to react to these feelings with sensitivity and humour and transform them into empathy and curiosity- not just for Jews but for all the “strangers who come to our shore.”


The show’s musical accompaniment is provided by the wonderfully talented jazz-singer, Margaret Carter.



Some e-mail comments from the audience


“Just wanted to tell how much I loved the show last night! It was so inspiring!! What a powerhouse this Jenny is!!!! You( Margaret Carter) looked so beautiful and sounded incredible!!”


“It was such a lovely evening! Funny, clever and interactive. We had a really great time. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it was both funny and dealt with really important issues. And you've done all that with such a grace!” 


“It was really a wonderful evening. My friends were also very enthusiastic!”


“The evening was sensational! We enjoyed it very much.”