Hello, Hay. How is it going in Israel these days?

— Our lives in Israel reflect the current situation in our country; the situation isn’t that great.

— What are you doing about this as artists?

— Since October 7th, there has been a brutal war going on here, and in Israel people say, «when the cannons roar, the muses are silent.» The state of emergency, and the suspension of performances has left us at home for a long time. Despite the situation, my brother Ronen and I sat down and wrote a new stand-up show. It covers the current situation and everything related to the Bukharian community, including childhood, parents, the perspective of a Bukharian immigrant from the 80s and 90s, our married life, our children, and many other amusing topics.

— Is this the theater’s 18th show?

— Yes, the theater has been around for 19 years, and this is our 18th show, as we didn’t have a show during the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Hebrew, the year is called «hay,» which also means «alive», so we decided to name the show in the same spirit: «Am Yisrael Hay and Ronen.» 

— Still, how did you decide to go on with the show during the war?

— It’s simply our duty — to make the people of Israel happy in any situation.

— And besides the show, what are you doing to boost national spirit?

— We visit IDF bases to perform for the soldiers. Last week, I went to Tel HaShomer hospital along with singer Kobi Peretz and actors from the»The 1990s» Hebrew TV series, Herzl Tovi, Arik Mashali, Moti Ben Ishai, and Shalom Asayag, to visit soldiers wounded in the war and those who were kidnapped and have since returned but are still hospitalized. It was a particularly moving evening, during which I met many severely injured soldiers. Together with the heads of the Jewish community of Panama, we provided them gifts worth a million shekels.

— And what about television?

— We thought about that too, and on January 7th, 2024, exactly three months after that terrible and dark day, we launched a new season of the 1990s comedy series, in which I have been playing the role of the head of a Mountain Jewish family for 12 years — the role of Vitaly Yeshoviev.

— So when will we see you in New York?

— As we do every year, we will bring our new show to New York in February, performing on the 17th, 18th, 24th, and 25th. We will then go on tour with performances in Toronto (Canada), Phoenix (Arizona), and Miami (Florida).

— Where do you draw your strengths from?

— In my childhood, I promised my grandmother that I would establish a Bukharian Jewish theater to bring joy to Bukharian Jews worldwide. I am happy that I kept my word. I warmly invite everyone to the upcoming performance, to laugh together with us because the people of Israel are alive and strong.

Eli Takhalov