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lazar freed bringS an interesting

greeting of Jewish life in Europe

Also tells about Yiddish actors and about Yiddish theatre. 

November 15, 1935

The well-known actor Lazar Freed, who plays the title role of I.J. Singer's "Yoshe Kalb," has this day returned from Europe, where he played with Maurice Schwartz, acting in the same play in various European countries.

He tells many interesting things about Yiddish theatre in Europe. About the Jewish situation in some of the countries, and also about them, recently, Jews have become increasingly attached to one another. Much for this phenomenon is due to the brutal Hitlerism, and the general anti-Semitic wave that is raging in many countries of Europe.

"The Jews in Europe,"  -- Freed said -- "have lately begun to draw closer to one another. There have always been Jews in various countries who have distanced themselves from the Jewish masses from afar. They kept themselves foreign from the Yiddish word, and from Jewish interests in general; they believe that they are different, and that they are thought of for their differences, like this Yiddish in general ... They, these Jews, however, finally found out their mistake. The Hitlerism and the general anti-Semitism has made them 'correct' the error, because the anti-Semitic poison did not exclude them either, and they began to feel 'English,' and the societies, where they thought they were already very cozy ... "

"The Jewish enemies did not make a fuss with them ...


"There were Jews who kept their distance from the boycott movement against Hitler's Germany, but many of them had already taken a very different stance in this regard."

"The situation of the Jews in the countries where I was in," -- Freed continued to say -- "is not at all exalted. The great majority struggle for a living, and the war between Italy and Abyssinia greatly disturbed the Jews, and people began to fear a war in Europe as well; In recent weeks, however, European Jews have become a little apprehensive about this, as they have begun to believe that there will be no world war in Europe. Yes, they were already, at any rate, beginning to get used to the idea of war. They think: 'What happens to everyone will happen to them ...' "

"The tragedy of the German Jews," -- Freed continued, "has deeply touched all the Jews of Europe. Everyone helps the German Jewish refugees with everything they are able to. Particularly distinguished in this respect are the Jews who immigrated from Poland to the various countries of Europe. They embrace the victims of Hitler's land, because they too, the Polish immigrants, have suffered quite a bit in their old home from the savage anti-Semitism, and they feel very strongly about the tragedy of the German Jews who have to 'get out of Hitler's hell.' "

Freed spent seven months in Europe. He was in Paris, Brazil, Antwerp, Hague, London, Glasgow, Manchester and other cities.

"The Jews love Yiddish theatre, but they love better plays, and they also want to hear a Yiddish word." -- Freed remarked.
-- "The local Yiddish actors can no longer draw so large an audience; People are already accustomed to them, and they cannot give the people what they want. This is why guest actors are very important to them; They are longed for."

"In many cities, where Schwartz has played 'Yoshe Kalb,' many intelligent Christians also came, and the newspapers responded very nicely to the play and the players. This led many Jews who have never, or rarely have attended Yiddish theatre, to come to see 'Yoshe Kalb,' and they have begun to feel strongly about this, that a Yiddish play can be such a big hit.

"In London the Jews strongly refrain from going to the theatre. This may be because their economic situation is bad, and it may be because of other reasons; However, the Jews did not show up at the theatre, as one might expect from people who live in such a world-city as London.

"In Glasgow it was different. There the success was already much greater, although the Orthodox Jews kept far from the theatre. However, there were among them those who would "steal" into the theatre through a back door, and when they go away, they do not grieve ... A cantor in Glasgow," -- the actor said -- "once caught himself in the theatre, and he almost hid himself somewhere near the stage, so that no one could see him. From time to time, however, if only the opportunity had arisen, he would catch a glimpse of the stage with wide eyes ...

"Orthodox Jews in London, and in other English cities, can be seen on Saturday traveling in cars and buses. Before they get to the Yiddish theatre, however, they go down a little further from the theatre and walk [back], so that the people who are around the theatre do not notice them."

Earlier he had told about "marrano actors," whom he had met in Paris. The actors play theatre on Sunday in a hall, where anti-Semites hold, on other days, their meetings. On Sunday they do not hold any meetings there, and the actors play Yiddish theatre there that day.

The hall is near a church and belongs to the church. The church people want to make some francs from renting the hall Sunday to the actors. However, no lights are allowed outside in the hall, and there are no signs to indicate that Yiddish theatre is being played there. The audience already knows what is being played because the news is passed on by word of mouth among theatre lovers, and they come there in a secret way, because when the anti-Semites learned that they were playing Yiddish theatre, they would perhaps not hold their meetings there, nor did they hold protests against it, and the actors were no longer allowed to rent [the hall]. Therefore, everything is done in this way, which the former marranos in Spain used to carefully restore order ...

Ask yourself: Why must the Yiddish actors play right there and not anywhere else, where one could do everything freely and openly? The excuse is that the actors are the great poor, and they cannot rent another place as cheaply.

"In France anti-Semitism can be met very often," he continued to tell, -- "In the French city of Reims, where I had a concert, a French pianist refused to accompany me when she found out I was a Jew."





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