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HERMAN YABLOKOFF TRAVELS AS A COURIER

TO THE JEWS IN THE D.P. CAMPS
 

He was sent by the Jewish Workers' Committee and from the Actors' Union. --

He will visit twelve countries. --

What he plans to do in Poland.

February 21, 1947
 

This coming Wednesday on the ship "America," there will be traveling to Europe a theatre person who embodies in himself six various abilities, or talents -- a stage director, a theatre director, an actor, a singer, an impresario, and a social activist, -- Herman Yablokoff. He travels to Europe on the initiative and with the blessing of the Yiddish Actors' Union and Jewish Workers' Committee. The mission is to bring a little joy and contributions to the "D.P." camps, where there lives -- if you can call it "living" -- the most unhappy or the unhappy victims of the last war.

Besides the camps in Germany, Yablokoff will also visit the Jewish communities in Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, France, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Switzerland and England, a whole dozen countries, incidentally, as president of the Grodno Association. He will also bring a special word of consolation -- and probably more tangible help -- to his countrymen, to those who have experienced the great disaster.

So as Molly Picon and Jacob Kalich did before him, now Yablokoff travels at his own expense. He has a sensible and deeply human explanation for this:

"My rule is that actors should not take more than they give. We Yiddish actors have taken a lot from the Jews of Poland and Eastern Europe. Before the war a great many of us traveled to Poland and Romania and Hungary and returned from there with full pockets. Now is the time for us to give back to them. I will sing in the camps for the Jews who once ran to hear us in Lodz and in Warsaw, in Iasi and in Budapest. By the way, who knows what tomorrow might be like?  The tens of thousands of Jews from the camps will, in a year, I hope, already be residents of America, of the Land of Israel, of South America, or of England. They will pay us twice as much for our coming to them now -- in their great, severe need."

In his career on the Yiddish stage Herman Yablokoff always was excellent with daring entrepreneurship and common sense. During the war years in this country, he dared to perform on stage Yiddish operettas that could be compared in size to the most glorious years of Yiddish theatre. His operettas have always been solemn and have shown an honest, sincere attitude to the theatre public.

"Der payatz (The Clown)," "Goldele, the Baker's Daughter," "Sammy's Bar Mitzvah," "Papirosn (Cigarettes)," "The Dishwasher," -- each of these pieces had a content that could be retold, even a moral; it was musical and neat. With some twenty-five offerings Yablokoff has enriched the Yiddish theatre for the Jews, for whom he has held a featured position as one of the most successful theatre directors. There were seasons when he managed two of the largest Yiddish theatres on the "Avenue," with the Public and with the Second Avenue Theatre, giving up his role as director and theatre impresario, despite his great popularity in the Yiddish theatre world.

If you walk with him on the "Avenue," or on a busy street in Brooklyn or the Bronx, when you go with him to a restaurant or a concert, let him be surrounded by people, his listeners, who greet him with a line from his most popular songs:

"In a restaurant I've seen ...", or,

"Buy my cigarettes ..."

And people, demanding of him, ask him: "Well, when will you play theatre? Robber, what is the limit to your strike?"

The writer also asked him the line:

"Indeed, when? What is the limit of your wandering around?"

Yablokoff answered -- and you can believe him -- that he is ready to play tomorrow, but where do you get a theatre now, when there is a great shortage of buildings? On the "Avenue" most theatres are found in the hand of one person, and the condition is such that only one of the theatres can be "legitimate," and in order to obtain the theatre, when it comes to taking it over, you have to invest a lot of money ... in the theatre, instead of in the "production."

One of the missions that R. Guskin, manager of the Actors' Union, has entrusted Yablokoff with is to help revive the remaining Yiddish actors in Poland and, if possible, to consolidate the Yiddish theatre that once flourished there. Yablokoff plans to perform there in a couple of his most successful plays, to study them with the local actors, and they will donate the offerings. He himself will play for one week with each of the productions.

On the fourth of June he will, he hopes, sit aboard the ship "Queen Elizabeth" and will travel from England back home.

Every lover of Yiddish theatre will wish Herman Yablokoff a happy trip, and he should bring joy into the closed hearts of the Jewish population in Europe. He will lift their spirits and strengthen their spirits -- for a Jew this is a big and rewarding job. Then Yablokoff will return, and the local Jewish masses will receive him with gratitude and with love, as he deserves.

 

 



 

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