The Impossible Dream

The Impossible Dream

By Israel Zwick
A musical drama inspired by “Man of La Mancha,”
book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, music by Mitch Leigh

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is the third part in a trilogy of short, musical plays about Jewish life and values in the State of Israel. The first was titled, “Farmer Without a Roof,” and the second was titled, “West Bank Story.” Both can be found by searching this site, in the category “Zwick’s Picks.”
Though the following story is fictitious, it was inspired by actual events.

A Musical Drama (Glossary at end)


DOVID CHAIM, college student
SHLOMO PINCHAS, college student
EXTRAS, assorted college students, airport travelers, paramedics


TIME: The Palestinian Intifada, 2001-2006

SETTING: Student cafeteria of Touro College, Brooklyn, NY. Dovid Chaim and Shlomo Pinchas, two male college students about 22 years old, are sitting at a table having lunch. Each is wearing a white shirt, black slacks, and a black kipa (yarmulke) on his head.

DOVID: Well, Shlomo, we did it! Finals are over and we graduate next week. And you’re graduating summa cum laude. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been going to school together for 18 years, and now it’s come to an end. I’m going to miss you, buddy.
SHLOMO: What do you mean that it’s “come to an end?” It doesn’t have to be that way, we’ll still get together.

DOVID: You’re just saying that. Soon you’ll be going to Einstein Medical School where you’ll be busy day and night, then will come marriage and family, so maybe we’ll get to see each other at a simcha occasionally.

SHLOMO: It’s not going to be like that. We’ve been together since pre-school. You used to protect me from those bullies that were bothering me. I’ll never forget you for that, I’ll be eternally grateful. We’ll be friends forever.

DOVID: Yeah, I remember that. You were always a nerdy scholar. You were the first kid in Morah Rivka’s class to know the whole Aleph-Bays. But I couldn’t stand to watch those little Goliaths picking on you just because you were smarter than them. I couldn’t just stand there and watch them taunt you. But that was ages ago.

SHLOMO: A mitzvah is never forgotten. What about you, Dovid? Have you decided what you’ll be doing after graduation?

DOVID: I’m exploring a few business opportunities, but nothing definitive yet. What I would really like to do is go to Eretz Yisroel and get involved with kiruv rechokim, and also build relations between Arabs and Jews, but that won’t get me any parnoso.

SHLOMO: There you go again, the lofty idealist who’s going to fix the world all by himself. That’s a daunting task. When are you going to accept the realization that the world is full of animosity, belligerence, strife, turbulence, and violence? There isn’t much we can do about it. That’s why I’m becoming a physician. Maybe I’ll be able to relieve the suffering of a few individuals, that’s the best I can hope for. You won’t be able to resolve anti-semitism, assimilation, and strife. It will always be there.

DOVID: Besides all the anti-semitism in the world, there is so much sinas chinom between Jews. The left hates the right, the secular Jews hate the Haredi Jews, the Ashkenazim hate the Sephardim, the Conservatives hate the Orthodox, and so forth. We can’t go on like this. It’s got to stop.

SHLOMO: And you’re going to stop it? Since the time of Moses there has been strife between different Jewish tribes, groups, and sects. Do you really believe that you’re going to be able to change that?

DOVID: I don’t know, but I have to try. I can’t just sit back and watch Jews tearing each other apart, damaging our community, and destroying our beloved Land of Israel. There has to be way to unite the Jewish people.

SHLOMO: How do you propose to do that?
DOVID: We need to teach the secular Jews about the beauty and serenity of the Jewish way of life. While other cultures glorify power, money, fame, and the pursuit of pleasure, Judaism emphasizes the importance of family, community, kindness, and good deeds. On the doorpost of every Jewish home, there is a mezuzah, which symbolizes the centrality of the home in Jewish life. In each mezuzah, there is a portion from the Torah that says, “You should teach it to your children, and discuss it when you sit in your house and walk on the way.” While other cultures emphasize the attainment of individual success and gratification, Judaism emphasizes service to the community. The great sage, Hillel, taught us, “Do not separate yourself from the community.” Every Shabbos in our morning prayers, we say, “For all who are involved in the needs of the community, may the Holy One reward them.”

SHLOMO: So how do you expect to get this message across?

DOVID: I want to reach out to all the people and teach them the importance of acceptance, tolerance, understanding, and compromise. I want to be a Rebbe for all the menchen. (He sings)

Rebbe of the Menchen
Adapted from “Man of La Mancha”
Lyrics by Joe Darion, Music by Mitch Leigh

Hear me now, Oh thou bleak and unbearable world
Thou art based and debauched as can be
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!

I am I, Dovid Chaim, the Rebbe of the Menchen
Destroyer of evil am I
I will march to the sound of the Shofars of glory
Forever to conquer or die.

Hear me heathens, and wizards and serpents of sin
All your dastardly doings are past
For a holy endeavor is now to begin
And virtue shall triumph at last!

I am I, Dovid Chaim, the Rebbe of the Menchen,
My destiny calls and I go
And the wild winds of fortune will carry me onward
Oh whither so ever they blow
Whither so ever they blow
Onward to glory I go.

SHLOMO: There you go dreaming again. Do you really believe that you’re going to change the world?

DOVID: Our nation was built on dreams. Our forefather Jacob had a dream, his son Yosef was famous for his dreams. In Tehillim 126, King David wrote, “When G-d will return the captivity of Zion, we will be like dreamers.” Our Scriptures and Talmud are replete with references to dreams. So if I’m a dreamer, at least I’m in good company. (He sings)

The Impossible Dream
Lyrics by Joe Darion, Music by Mitch Leigh

Play MP3, Impossible Dream

To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go.
To right, the unrightable wrong,
To love, pure and chaste, from afar,
To try, when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star!

This is my Quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause!

And I know, If I’ll only be true
To this glorious Quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this,
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars!

Play MP3, Impossible Dream

SHLOMO: Well, I wish you hatzlacha rabba, may all of your dreams come true.

DOVID: Hey, I have a great idea!

SHLOMO: Not another one of your bright ideas? I suppose that I should be used to it by now. OK, let’s hear it.

DOVID: Why don’t you come to Eretz Yisroel with me. I’m sure that you can get a one-year deferment from Einstein. We haven’t been to Israel together since we spent a year at Yeshiva Neveh Zion. We can visit the Mash and all the Rebbeim. You can learn at the Mir Yeshiva. You always wanted to do that. Wouldn’t it be great! What do you say?

SHLOMO: I don’t know. Let me think about it and discuss it with my parents. I’ll get back to you.


TIME: three weeks later
SETTING: Ben-Gurion Airport, Israel, Arrivals Terminal. There is a crowd of people. A mother, wearing a kerchief, and a cute little boy with a black kipa are at the edge of the stage.

DOVID: Well, here we are. It’s hard to believe that we pulled it off. You’ll be learning at the Mir Yeshiva and I’ll be working for Yeshiva Ohr Samayach nearby. We can get together often. It will be fantastic, you’ll see. Hey, look at that little boy! He’s going to grow up to be Moshiach.

SHLOMO: Moshiach, who?

DOVID: Moshiach Ben Dovid, who else? Our Messiah, Our Redeemer.

SHLOMO: What are you talking about? He’s a five-year-old little boy. Dovid, you’re losing it. I think this heat is getting to you.

DOVID: (He walks over to the little boy and offers him a cookie. The boy, frightened, refuses the cookie and clings to his mother’s long skirt. Dovid bends down to the boy’s level and sings)

Knight of the Fearful Countenance
Adapted from “Knight of the Woeful Countenance”
Lyrics by Joe Darion, Music by Mitch Leigh

Hail, Knight of the Fearful Countenance
Knight of the Fearful Countenance!
Wherever you go,
People will know
Of the glorious deeds
Of the Knight of the Fearful Countenance!

Farewell and good cheer
Oh, my brave cavalier
Ride onward to glorious strife
I’ll swear when you’re gone
I’ll remember you well
For all of the rest of my life.

Oh, valorous Knight,
Go and fight for the right
And battle all villains that be,
But oh when you do,
The miracles so true,
Then G-d will appear for all to see.

Hail, Knight of the Fearful Countenance
Knight of the Fearful Countenance,
Wherever you go
People will know
Of the glorious deeds
Of the Knight of the Fearful Countenance.

SHLOMO: Dovid, come on! Hurry, our taxi is waiting, we’re going to lose it.

(Shlomo and Dovid step into the taxi with their luggage)

DOVID: Isn’t this wonderful! In less than an hour, we’re going to be in Yerushalayim, our Holy City, the Eternal Capital of the Jewish people. We’ll be able to daven maariv at the Kotel. (He sings)

Adapted from “Dulcinea”
Lyrics by Joe Darion, Music by Mitch Leigh

I have dreamed thee too long,
Never seen thee or touched thee,
But known thee with all of my heart.
Half a prayer, half a song
Thou hast always been with me,
Though we have been always apart.

Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim

I see heaven when I see thee, Yerushalayim.
And thy name is like a prayer
An angel whispers, Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim

If I reach out to thee,
Do not tremble and shrink
From the touch of my hand on thy hair.
Let my fingers but see
Thou art warm and alive,
Not a phantom to fade in the air.

Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim

I have sought thee, sung thee
Dreamed thee, Yerushalayim
Now I’ve found thee
And the world shall know thy glory,

Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim.


TIME: The next evening
SETTING: A café on Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem. This is a trendy spot for college students.

SHLOMO: Dovid, why did you bring me here? Ben-Yehuda Street has a reputation for drugs and booze.

DOVID: Precisely. These are my clients. These are the people that I want to connect with. (He stands up on a chair). My friends, hear me out. It’s time to do teshuva.

SHLOMO: Dovid, what are doing? Get down from there. You’re making a fool of yourself.

DOVID: My friends, it’s time to return to the ways of Hashem.

SHLOMO: Dovid, stop it. That’s not the way. They’ll throw us out of here.

(Suddenly there is the sound of a loud explosion and shattered glass. The stage goes dark. In the darkness, cries and screams are heard. A few minutes later, two paramedics walk in, shining their flashlights. In the light of the flashlight, Dovid is lying on the floor and Shlomo is kneeling over him. Both are covered with blood. Shlomo is tearing off his shirt and using it as a tourniquet in a vain attempt to stop Dovid’s profuse bleeding. He moves away as the paramedics come over to attend to Dovid.)

SHLOMO: Oh, Rebono Shel Olam, please don’t let him die. (He sings, as the paramedics are working on Dovid)

Let Him Live
Adapted from “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer

Play MP3, Bring Him Home 

Lord on high,
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there

He is young,
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed

Bring him home
Bring him home
Let him live

He’s like the brother I might have known
If G-d had granted me a brother
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And he is bold
And will be gone.

Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy

You can take,
You can give
Let him be,
Let him live.

If I die, let me die
Let him live.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Let him live.

Play MP3, Bring Him Home

DOVID: (In a weak voice)

I see heaven when I see thee, Yerushalayim
And thy name is like a prayer
An angel whispers, Yerushalayim, Yerushalayim.

(with his final breath)
Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokaynu, Hashem Echod



Glossary (in order of appearance)

kipa – head covering worn by Orthodox Jewish males
simcha – festive occasion like a wedding or birth
aleph-bays – Hebrew alphabet
mitzvah – good deed
kiruv rechokim – outreach to non-affiliated Jews
parnoso – financial support
sinas chinom – baseless hatred
mezuzah – item required on Jewish doorposts
Shabbos – Saturday, Sabbath
menchen – (Yiddish) people, common folk
Shofar – ancient trumpet made from ram’s horn
Tehillim – Psalms
hatzlacha rabba – lots of success
Yerushalayim – Jerusalem, Israel
teshuva – repentenance
Rebono Shel Olam – Lord of the World
Shema Yisroel – prayer said when one is close to death

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