Joel Schechter

Illuminating Passover: ?The Four Questions? from Arthur Szyk?s Haggadah is on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

The Most Beautiful Haggadah in the Room

You might recognize the the Szyk Haggadah — it’s been used at thousands of Seders since the 1930’s. Now, the stunning paintings are on display.

From Siberia To the Lower East Side

Jacob Gordin once predicted that ‘Jewish theater in America has no future.’ But he was wrong, and his own drama still has a role to play in that legacy.

Camille Pissarro's Full Life on Display

Camille Pissarro was renowned as an Impressionist landscape painter. A new exhibit explores the lesser-known sides of this Caribbean-born Jew and anarchist.

Domestic Empire: Gertrude Stein?s relationship with Alice B. Toklas appears conventional, but was a harbinger of sexual freedom and equality.

Picasso's Muse and Warhol's, Too

San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum is paying tribute to the expatriate writer Gertrude Stein with an exhibit of photographs, paintings and sculptures that focuses more on her friendships, her celebrity and legacy than on her poetry or novels.

Gouache from ?Life? Or Theatre?? Courtesy of the Charlotte Salomon Foundation.
Arthur Szyk in Paris.
Bernard Zakheim?s controversial library scene in the Colt Tower mural. Click for larger view.
Seated portrait of Stella Adler.

Awake and Act, For It Can Happen Here

On April 8, 1935, congressional legislation created the Works Progress Administration, which developed millions of jobs for the unemployed. WPA agencies placed 8.5 million Americans on the federal payroll, including hundreds of Yiddish actors, writers, scene designers and theater directors hired for the administration’s Federal Theatre Project. On the 75th anniversary of the WPA and the FTP, unemployment is too high once again, and the benefits provided by the 1930s relief programs deserve reconsideration, as well as a tribute.

Dull and Static: This photograph of the 1935 film cast of ?The Yiddish King Lear? is compements [sic] of director Joseph Seiden. The play was better received than the film.

Yiddish King Lear on the Relief Roll

The United States government bankrolled some of the most innovative Yiddish stage productions in the 20th century when it paid the salaries of actors, writers and directors under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. One of the first plays funded by the WPA can still be seen on film almost 75 years later. The 1935 production of prominent Yiddish playwright Jacob Gordin’s 1892 play “The Yiddish King Lear” will be screened in Manhattan at CUNY’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center on December 15.