Would you see it again?

The whole slew of new websites and print pieces, complete with cutting edge coverage of cultural progress among our people, sometimes don’t do it for me. The reason? There’s little coverage of recovery, that Gershom Scholem-esque treasure hunt within tradition that seems all-to-limited to the spiritual these days. We Ashkenazish Jews feel very comfortable exploring the religious and culinary styles of non-European Jewry and intregrating it into our postcolonial Judaism, but we draw little from the dynamic cultures we ourselves left behind when our families boarded ships to America.
In Poland, throughout its history and certainly in the aftermath of World War II, was one bohemian haunt. The pre-war Warsaw of assimilated Jewish intellectuals, Polish painters, Yiddish designers and Abraham Joshua Heschels was destroyed and to Poland’s detriment, the shtetlach had burned.
So what does a Polish soul do when its been destructive and been destroyed? It embarks on a journey into the mirror. The Polish Cinema is a good example.
The Polish Film School, which emerged in the 50s after a group of film-men took advantage of a nicer government and began to create films that dealt with World War II and the trauma it inflicted on Polish people. That burst of moral creativity perhaps gave way, 3 decades later as the Soviet Union withered, to a slew of Jewish, Israeli and Yiddish plays being shown in Poland at The National Jewish Theater. The people were starting to talk about the Jews, or went to see what the Jews had to say after all. Check out some of the show posters here.
Jewish theater being shown in Poland during the thaw is just one example of how our culture, our creativity and our brilliance was staged. Appropriately, Polish poster artists interpreted these plays in the images they created to promote them. Here stands a new Jew for our youth to gaze upon, a Redskin of East Europe. We are a lone spiritual civlization, connected to the landscapes, we are both very present and we don’t seem to exist.
Meanwhile, the European Jewish press reported on November 13th, that Germany will give 5 million euros for a project to build a Jewish Museum in the heart of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Full Story.

One thought on “Would you see it again?

  1. There was indeed a Yiddish culture that is now being destroyed by being ignored
    That’s why the Folksbiene’s mainstage performance this season is precisely about one niche of that culture–the cabarets and nightclub acts of secular Jews who found themselves at home in the world they created in smoky clubs between the wars, singing about what they rejected and accepted. They were flappers, communists, zionists, a “frei” group of Jews wanting to be like everyone else, yet trapped by their Judaism and destroyed in the Holocaust. These clubs, cafes and cabarets were packed to the rafters, but no one ever told us about them before.
    I saw the show last night and will see it again on Sat. nite. It is a fascinating piece of work by two exemplary actors who do a great job of bring the past to life and linking it, in the end to our times. It’s a tri-lingual performance in English, Yiddish and a bit of Russian, and it tells a story some people would rather forget, but is a very real part of Jewish history and culture, even if it ain’t religious. As a piece of theater, it is excellent, even though there will be those who resent the Jewish people even looking at that piece of their lives in Europe.
    But then, I am against revisionism, whether it comes from Holocaust deniers or Orthodox Jews. That’s why I liked this play.
    So go see it. (

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