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March 18, 1949

Last week Ben-Zion Witler and Shifra Lerer returned from London, where they played for almost five months in the local Yiddish Palais (sp) Theatre.

The week Witler visited the editorial office of the "Forward" and spoke about London's Yiddish theatre and the London Yiddish theatre attendee. His main enthusiasm  is with the local Jewish youth, which has a good taste for Yiddish Theatre. In general, the relationship of the Jewish audience to the theatre and the actor is warm and heartfelt. It has been said of us, "Do not forget to mention this, Whitler." And because of the youth who come to the theatre, there are people who are estranged from the Yiddish word.

Hence, however, Witler spoke with bitterness about the London Yiddish newspaper whose relationship to the Yiddish theatres is "criminally indifferent." London possesses only one newspaper in Yiddish, and it was expected to devote space and attention to a cultural institution such as the theatre. But apart from the paid advertisements, one can not find a single word about the Yiddish theatre in the newspaper. Such a relationship with a newspaper that its founder, Morris Meyer, gave to the theatre in many places at the time, is difficult to explain. The current publisher doesn't write good or bad about the Yiddish theatre -- he ignores it.

There exists two Yiddish theatres in London: the New Yiddish, led by N. Bitler, and the Palais (sp), in which a cooperative troupe plays. Witler loves the actors of both troupes. Incidentally, Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, the theatres closed in honor of the Sabbath.

One would think that the Jews observing Shabbat would provide the children with a Jewish upbringing. However, there are no Jewish schools in London. There is even a lack of Talmud Torahs. There grows a generation that does not know. Nothing in London, not even a Yiddish radio hour. The impression is that London is dominated by a severe indifference to Jewish practice.

And yet the Jewish youth are thirsty for a Yiddish word. It comes in large halls in a Yiddish theatre.

On Passover Shifra Lerer and Ben-Zion Whitler are engaged in the Douglas Park Theatre in Chicago. They travel there at the end of the month.





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