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
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
"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
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."