June 25, 2024
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Folksbiene Focuses on Purim

Riverdale—This season the National Yiddish-Folksbiene is concentrating on Purim with the return of The Megile of Itzik Manger and an evening of Purim Shpils, free to the public, in addition to a series of free programs and schmoozes on Yiddish culture. The NY Post gave last year’s production of The Megile four stars (the TimeOut NY loved it,too), and the new mainstage version, starring Tony-nominee Mo Hanan and Avi Hoffman, kicks off the theatre’s 99th year. So catch it during its two-week run. The play premiered earlier this week at Baruch’s Center for the Performing Arts and runs through March 16, with one break in the schedule for a night of Purim Shpils.

On Tuesday night, March 11, the troupe will present a free reading of two hilarious skits—one by a Holocaust survivor in Kosice who, immediately after liberation, wrote love letters to his wife-to-be in Tel Aviv, Mandate Palestine. Herbert Herschel Tuchman, z’l, author of The Hands of Time, was 89 when he decided to write his memoirs for his grandchildren and asked me to help. We spent many long days together cracking jokes in Yiddish, with him telling me his story of survival and rebirth, and also stories about my own father when they hid in Budapest together, and then ended up living on the same block in Crown Heights.

When he died, his daughter, Ruth Tuchman Adler, the force majeur behind her father’s book, found the letters. They were handwritten and typed, on yellowed, brittle sheets of paper in Hungarian, Yiddish, broken German and Hebrew. Many crossed in the mail. Many were lost. But among those fascinating letters, we found a sheet of onionskin typed single-space on both sides, in transliterated Yiddish, that he had written to his bride-to-be, Mindu Maggid, to amuse her.

It was the hilarious tale of a couple from the shtetl who end up in Vienna because Yachne has an inflammation of the lungs. It gets funnier and funnier, until you almost fall over laughing. It will presented, as a reading, free to the public on March 11, Tuesday night at 7 at Baruch, along with another one-act play for Purim, a delightful musical written by the late Chana Mlotek, z’l, mother of Zalmen Mlotek, the Folksbiene’s Artistic Director. Imagine Queen Esther, Achashveirosh, Mordechai and Haman in a Gilbert and Sullivan production. Don’t imagine. Go see it. This is a tribute to her and a great way to remember her with laughter and song.

Go get reservations. It’s free.

By Jeanette Friedman

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