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the comic itzik feld tells interesting and

curious stories from his travels in europe

When he was out for a while he became a comedian.

-- See him with his melamed, who says that he knew that

nothing would become of him. -- An story about Hasidic boys. 

by Y. Sh. Prenowitz

September 13, 1935

Itzik Feld, the well-known comic, who last week returned from Europe where he spent ten weeks' time, tells interesting and curious stories from his travels.

From New York the comedian traveled to Paris, where he played for two weeks. True, he said, the Jewish masses of Paris do not boast of "heavy" bank books, but they love Yiddish theatre, and thanks to their love for the Yiddish stage, they filled the theatre at all our performances.

From Paris he traveled to Lublin, Poland, where he was born. From Lublin -- to Warsaw, where he played for a couple of weeks. As quickly as he was finished with Warsaw, he returned to New York, where he immediately set about helping prepare the opening play in the Public Theatre, where he is engaged.

"If you would ask me why I sailed straight from Paris to Lublin and not to Warsaw -- Feld said -- I would explain that in Lublin I am not only playing theatre, but I had another job there too. In the Lublin cemetery one finds the graves of my parents, and I went to their ancestral graves. My heart dragged me there. And when I was at the cemetery, when I saw the graves of my parents, I immediately became a comedian. My childhood began to play before my


spiritual eyes; the cheders [religious, elementary schools], to which I am going; my friends, the synagogue, and I am remembering every moment, when my parents had led me to the cheder, and how happy my parents were then. Now ... now ... their graves ... My heart was very sad ... No, in that moment I am not a comedian; I am a tragic man ..."

When Feld tells the writer of this piece the interesting events of his trip, he was already in New York, quite far from the graves of his parents, and -- he is already back to being a comedian ...

"I had not been in Lublin for six years, and I wanted to see what Lublin looked like now, -- Feld continued to tell. I took a droshky (carriage) and had the driver travel through the streets. Then I came to the house where my first cheder was. I went into it, but the cheder was no longer there, and Rabbi Meiner was already in the Hall of Truth. I traveled to the house where my second cheder was, and I happened upon a cheder, and also my rabbi, to whom I had never had any great love for, and he also not for me, because I treated him badly over the years.

"I recognized my former melamed [religious teacher], but he didn't recognize me. I cursed him, and he gave me a "shalom." He started asking me ten questions, where I was, what I was doing and so on. When I told him I lived in America, he immediately gave a long sigh. He gave another long sigh when I told him that I was an actor ...

-- Azoy! Azoy! (So! So!), the rabbi said, repeating it several times, -- So, become an actor! Do you remember what I once told you, that you will make nothing of yourself? ... That's how it turned out ... You became an actor ... Are you at least an honest Jew? Do you go to shul? Do you at least pray every day?

When Field comforted him a little, saying that in America there are also pious Jews there, and that in America no one is forced to be a goy (non-Jew), and the rabbi slightly exhaled before breathing again ...


The situation for the Jews in Lublin, and also the situation for the entire population, is very difficult. The entire city looks like a cemetery in which living corpses go about. In Lublin one finds a Jewish hospital, which excels in all matters, although it is very pressed in economic respects. Everything there is clean, beautiful, light and airy.

Before a Jew is admitted into this hospital, they must get a script from the Jewish kehilla, that they could be admitted. The head doctor of the hospital, Dr. [Henryk] Tenenbaum, told Feld of an interesting event:

"A Jew, who needs an operation, comes to the office from the kehilla with a script, that we should take him into the hospital, indicating as a reason that he does not want to go to the city hospital, because there one has to eat traif (non-kosher food). But he was not given the script because he doesn't have a beard ... They say to him that a Jew without a beard is not a Jew at all, and therefore he cannot be admitted into the hospital. He decides to grow a beard, and every day the patient looks at his face to see if his beard has grown, and he often looks in the mirror to see how big his beard is."

In New York there is a Lublin women's auxiliary, which has a pavilion in that hospital. This auxiliary maintains it, and Feld said to the doctor that he will, when he arrives in New York, get in touch with the ladies' auxiliary, and he will help create an undertaking to support the hospital.

From Lublin he traveled to Warsaw. In the time when he found himself in his hotel there, a servant told him that a "rabbi" wanted to see him. He called for the guest to be brought up. Up came a young man of twenty-two years, and he was dressed in a black capote, wearing short trousers, a flapping hat and black socks. When he came in he presented himself as the sexton of a rabbi, and he handed over a letter from his rabbi, which was written in Polish. In the letter the rabbi requested that he may be so good as to send him a couple of tickets for the theatre, because he wants to see the play.

The entire time that the young sexton was with Feld in the room, he had with one hand represented a half-face, and in that pose he also left the room.

"Will you still ask me why he kept his face half-represented?

-- Feld said, "Well, there was a woman in the room, Lola Spielman, who played together with me, and the young sexton had maintained his half-face, which was on her side, showing that he might not be able to look at her ... and perhaps because he was afraid she would give him an evil eye ..."

Feld also told that a group of young students, with long capotes, but not with any small payes, came to the theatre at a time prior to the theatre opening. And they quietly demanded that they be given tickets, as well as asked that they be allowed into the theatre through a back door before it would open, when it would still be dark there, so that they would not be noticed entering the theatre.

The question is why they were so afraid to go into the theatre? They explained: "It is not appropriate for us to go to the theatre and sit there among women and girls."

Therefore they also requested that should seat them in a special corner, where they could not be noticed, and that they could sit alone ...

About the situation in Poland, Feld did not want to speak about it.

"That the economic situation there is not good, -- he observed -- one already knows; this is nothing new, and about the Polish situation? -- Well, I have made an agreement with the Polish government, that they would not interfere with my plays, and I would not mix in its politics ... Well, I have to keep my word ..."




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