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Yes, Asian Jews exist, and now a show about them is coming to the Bay Area – SF Chronicle

‘What Do I Do With All This Heritage?‘ – a kaleidoscope of monologues produced by the Braid and Lunar Collective tours to Palo Alto, Los Gatos and S.F.

By Lily Janiak

May 13, 2024

Actors Lillian Mimi McKenzie and Kaitlyn Tanimoto rehears "What Do I Do With All This Heritage?" photo credit: David Chiu


Some were adopted. Others converted for a life partner. Still others are multiracial. 

One even claims both Judaism and Islam

But regardless of their origins, the Asian American Jews involved in What Do I Do 

With All This Heritage?” share a through line: having to explain their origins. Over. 

And over.

And now with their world premiere — which they’re billing as the first show ever 

dedicated to their identity — they’re explaining one more time. Produced by Los 

Angeles Jewish theater company the Braid and community organization the Lunar 

Collective, the show seeks to broadcast more widely not just the fact of their 

existence but its richness, joy, humor and drama. What Do I Do With All This

Heritage?is a kaleidoscope of monologues and song by authors of geographic and 

age diversity, from one eighth grader to septuagenarians. For Bay Area audiences, 

the piece tours Palo Alto, Los Gatos and San Francisco on May 18-19 and runs 

online through June 9.

One of the actors, Lillian Mimi McKenzie, said that when she meets new people

she tries to preempt their surprise. She adopts an exaggerated showman’s 

intonation with a “you wouldn’t know this, but” before the big reveal: I’m also 

Jewish.” As a result of that setup, she told the Chronicle, I haven’t really gotten 

huge pushback.”

“That gives me hope for the younger generations,” co-producer David Chiu 

countered, laughing, during a group Zoom interview. He said that when he has 

brought up his identity over the years, he has gotten a range of cringeworthy 

responses: “You must be very confused,” “Are you more Asian, or are you more 

Jewish?” and How does that work?” 

Chiu got the idea for What Do I Do With All This Heritage?” from “True Colors,”

Braid show dedicated to Jews of color more broadly. The new piece – hewing to 

the Braid’s specialty of bringing nonfiction stories to life, in what it calls “salon 

theater– features a laughout-loud segment about adult circumcision, a made- 

for-a-romcom tale about a Chinese man who winds up on JDate, a dating website 

for Jews, and a dilemma of a monologue about being torn between your modern 

Orthodox parents and your K-pop star aspirations.

San Francisco native Chelsea Eng, who contributed a piece about what it would 

mean to raise a Jewish child, told the Chronicle she frequently feels imposter 

syndrome as both an Asian American and a Jewish convert. But she found ballast 

in some wisdom imparted by Rabbi Jonathan Singer, of San Francisco’s 

Congregation Emanu-El: Being Jewish, it’s not about genetics, folks,she recalled 

him saying. “It’s about being engaged and being a blessing.

What Do I Do With All This Heritage?arrives amid increased reports of 

antisemitism coinciding with the IsraelHamas war. While the Braid and the Lunar 

Collective are not political organizations, Chiu said, “What we do strive for is to 

bring people together.

“The lines that divide us are blurred,” he went on. We try to create these sharp 

lines; we try to put people into simple boxes. But we’re complex people. In those 

blurry places, those gray areas, sometimes that’s where some of the most magical 

art can come.”



Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle.


Date Posted

May 2024


San Francisco Chronicle