Astoria resident hosts ‘Ruth Sent Us’ Charity Benefit

The performers for ‘Ruth Sent Us.’ Photo: Cathryn Lynne

By Alicia Venter

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Astoria resident and professional artist Mara Jill Herman is doing more than creating work for pleasure and enjoyment. With her numerous individual works and charity benefits, Herman is trying to spread a message. 

“Usually what happens is that I feel frustrated or rageful about something and I channel that rage into an art baby,” Herman said. This ‘art baby’ takes the form of activism, as Herman has dedicated much of her individual work towards raising awareness and proceeds for humanitarian and social causes.

Her third and most recent charity benefit concert was this recent Tuesday, Oct. 11, titled “Ruth Sent Us: A Benefit For Reproductive Justice.” This “Ruth” is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female Supreme Court Justice and the first female Jewish Justice. 

Some of the proceeds from this concert were donated to benefit the Jewish Fund for Abortion Access.

Herman was inspired by a sign she saw while protesting in Washington Square Park on June 24 — when the Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade was overturned — which read ‘Ruth Sent Us.’

“That really hit me and impacted me in a meaningful way. I felt like ‘yes, she most certainly did [send us,]” Herman said “That’s where the inspiration came from for the title of the concert and why I wanted to celebrate her legacy.”

Fellow actors joined together for ‘Ruth Sent Us,’ at the Green Room in Manhattan, including Jennifer Apple, Rebecca Hargrove, Kendyl Ito, Annemarie Josephson and Austin Ku. 

Original music from the duos Marina Pires and Luke Wygodny of The Heartstrings Project were performed.

The livestream video can be purchased through Oct. 24.  

Tickets are on sale now but they must  bepurchase no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 24 to view the replay later that night. 

The venue will distribute livestream tickets two hours before showtime. Tickets are $19.

To purchase the video, visit this link: https://thegreenroom42.venuetix.com/show/details/t3dfoKPu4fgev2hvrOUP/1666652400000.

For additional livestream support, email [email protected] or call (917) 239-6560.

Herman is a Jewish woman, and this identity influences her artistic expression. She has often gravitated towards roles that are an extension of her culture, and allow her to express this cultural identity. Such a role she played was is in ‘The Band’s Visit,’ a Tony Award winning musical.

“That was a really cool moment in my life when I was specifically hired for that project because of my ability to read and sing in Hebrew,” Herman said. “So that was a nice way to blend my artist and Jewish identity in a work that went on to have some great success.”

Herman views a ban on abortion as against her religion, and as such, it should be protected under the Constitution. 

The first benefit that Herman produced, titled “Stronger than Hate, was for the anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. 

“Several people were killed, simply by showing up and praying in a synagogue,” she said. “So that really hit me.” 

The following year, Herman had been actively volunteering with the StateraArts, an organization that works to uplift and amplify women in art spaces, with their mission dedicated to gender equality. The benefit, titled ‘Changemakers,’ was about celebrating female and non binary people in the arts. 

Her goal from her most recent benefit is simple — education. 

“I want to feel like I helped raise awareness and  helped raise funds that get to the people who need it the most, because while abortion may be legal in New York State, it still impacts all of us,” she said. 

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