Jordan Herskowitz goes online with his message from the heart
By Deb Silverthorn
Plano native Jordan Herskowitz had planned to revive his 11-year-old autographical play in person this spring. But when the coronavirus pandemic sidelined his plans, he improvised.
Instead, “Growing up Jordy Pordy: The Revival” is now online. Created while he was a student at the University of Tulsa, the play explores growing up Jewish in Texas and themes of self-identity, family and religion.
“I’ve always wanted to be an actor and through ‘Jordy Pordy’ I explored myself. I take off the mask, literally and figuratively, exposing my life,” said Herskowitz, from his home in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he’s the upper school principal at Golda Och Academy, a Jewish day school.
Herskowitz performed the play more than 350 times in 40 cities, across three continents. The play also recounts his experiences having two brothers with cystic fibrosis. Brother Neil received a double-lung transplant in 2015 and is doing well; younger brother Richie died from CF in 2007.
“I grieved through the show. It’s become about more than me, more about the human spirit that everyone can connect to,” Herskowitz said.
“All of us, living through the pandemic, are grappling with how to live, what we take for granted,” he said. “The message is so important, no matter where we are. We’re all in this life together.”
The one-hour presentation premiered live on May 31, followed by a talkback session with Broadway and television actor Johnny Wu. It airs through June 30.
Herskowitz has had more than 600 viewers tune in to the online event, for which he added an epilogue.
“I moved the furniture out of my bedroom and turned it into my own black box theater,” said Herskowitz. “I ran my own tech rehearsal, I shot it with my iPhone, I did it all; it’s about as ‘one man’ as you can get.”
He also shared with families at Golda Och. “I thought about how powerful it would have been for me to see this at 16,” he said. “With everyone home now, it’s a perfect opportunity for families to share conversations the play’s themes provide.”
Herskowitz is also executive director of Richie’s Spirit Foundation, created in 2008 on behalf of his family, which includes parents Barbie and Mark, his sister Bryna and Neil.
Richie’s Spirit Foundation is named in Richie’s memory and promotes organ donation through education awareness programs, grants, and inspiring others to live life with a positive spirit. The foundation has granted $30,000 to families of transplant patients for expenses not covered by insurance, with another $4,000 expected to be shared this month. It has also granted college-bound students another $33,000.
“We are so proud of Jordan and the amazing work he’s done with the foundation,” said Barbie Herskowitz. “We hope that the importance of organ donation and Richie’s legacy will always be remembered.”
To view “Growing up Jordy Pordy: the Revival,” or to make a donation to Richie’s Spirit Foundation, visit richiesspirit.org/jordypordy.