Meet Fellow Sivan Battat

Sivan’s COVID-19 HAIKU:

I hold out my phone
search for a beloved’s palm
screen covered in prints

Sivan Battat (she/they) is an Iraqi-Jewish theatre director, cultural worker, community organizer & educator. Sivan has worked with NYC-based Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) in numerous capacities, particularly organizing Mizrahi & Sephardi Jews around shared cultural and political identities and artistic coordinating JFREJ Mimouna, a celebration of identity & ritual led by members of the Mizrahi/Sephardi Caucus in collaboration with the Arab American Association of NY. Sivan also recently curated Salon Al-Mahjar صالون المهجر, a performance salon for queer & trans MENASA artists. As an educator, Sivan has led ancestral storytelling workshops within various communities, taught Mizrahi Feminist history, Anti-Semitism and decolonial praxis, and more. Sivan is an educator & board member with Ammud: The Jews of Color Torah Academy, designing curriculum and developing organizational vision. Recent theatre directing credits include Who the F*ck is Ahmed by Michael Zalta (Rough Draft Festival, LPAC), Raphael Khouri’s SHE HE ME (National Queer Theatre), Coexistence My Ass by Noam Shuster (Harvard University/National Tour) Pie Shop Play by Alice Pencavel (Corkscrew Festival), East o’, West o’! by Michelle J. Rodriguez (ANTFest, Ars Nova). Sivan is a member of Tzedek Lab: a Jewish Justice Lab and the Roundabout Directors’ Group, and recently completed the Dorot Fellowship, where they studied Mizrahi Feminisms and Arabic and organized for justice in Israel-Palestine.


In a year of global loss and personal loss, I’ve become fixated on grief, grieving, rituals of mourning, how we put word, image, sound and sensation to these experiences of humanness that pulse so deeply through us, that define what it is to be alive. To me, suddenly, all story feels intimately bound up with grief.

I am developing a loose adaptation of the Book of Job, an exploration of grief and grieving rooted in Jewish ritual traditions of loss. Job is a mother losing her child. Job is a lover losing her sweet. Job is a worker losing his hopes for survival. Judaism often looks to Job as a model for how to bear loss; and yet, does Job not erupt with rage in his grief too? Grief is also full of light, and full of joy, and full of mess and full of laughter. My darkest nights often dovetail with big bellied laughter. Grief is the shadow, the reflection of the big love we have.

In this moment, our society is actually so filled with grief; we need somewhere for it to go, and we need containers for it. My piece will root itself in the story Job, incorporating poetry, Jewish grief ritual, and music. The piece, ideally, will be a performance that invites in grief, encounters, affirms, and invites visitors to connect with their grief, release what serves, leave with what serves, and find sensation, community and healing together, rooted in this complex Jewish narrative of chosen-ness, suffering, litmus tests, martyrdom, accountability and loss.


My Undercut