Esta Salzman, the last actress to be part of New York City’s Second Avenue musical theater scene during its heyday in the 1920s and ’30s, died April 23 at the age of 94.
In 1992, the Guggenheim Museum collaborated with scholar Benjamin Harshav on an exhibit of Marc Chagall’s legendary set designs for the Moscow State Yiddish Art Theater, known as Goset. Harshav developed his research for that project into “The Moscow Yiddish Theater: Art on Stage in the Time of Revolution,” and indeed this book, like the best of museum exhibits, leaves the reader exhilarated, contemplative and with a new perspective on art. In addition to Harshav’s introductory essays, this work includes photographs of theatrical productions, full-color sketches of costumes and set designs, letters and writings by the artists and by contemporary critics of Goset, and scenes from plays by Sholom Aleichem, lovingly translated by Harshav and his wife and collaborator, Barbara Harshav. More than simply focusing on the history of the Moscow State Yiddish Art Theater, Harshav raises questions about the nature of art and about art’s power in revolutionary times.
My Irish Catholic grandmother fulfilled a life-long goal in her 80s when she traveled to the Holy Land; however, the story she told on her return was not of the sights she’d seen. Wandering around the Old City of Jerusalem, she walked into a shop and was amazed when the Orthodox Jew at the counter began speaking to her in Gaelic. Before going to Israel she had never met a Jew, and she did not know that there was a small but vibrant community in her own backyard.
How does an Irish Catholic become a translator of Yiddish drama? It’s a question I am asked, over and over. The short answer is that I came to study Yiddish literature, and later Yiddish theater, through my love of the Anglo-Irish and Gaelic literary traditions. The longer answer requires a bit of history.
The world of the theater lost a peerless artist last week. Yiddish actress Luba Kadison Buloff passed away on May 4 in her apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at the age of 99. Born in 1906 in Kovno, Lithuania, the last surviving member of the renowned Yiddish theater company the Vilna Troupe, she was the embodiment of a sophisticated and