Watching a Hebrew play from 1981 performed in Yiddish may not be the most bizarre thing I’ve done for the Forward, but it was surprisingly important.
“Yiddish is not about the Holocaust. It goes way beyond that. My dream is to keep Yiddish alive in a post-Holocaust world.”
The upcoming Yiddish production of ‘Waiting for Godot’ seems like a crazy idea, but the language casts a new light on Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece.
A version of this post appeared in Yiddish here.
The year is 1943. The place is Warsaw. The ghetto uprising has been crushed, but one man, a Hasid by the name of Yosl Rakover, is still alive, and he is busy recording his sordid tale for posterity. After recounting the events of the last few years — the deaths of his children and grandchildren, the hunger that pervades his every bone, the sense of despair all around him — he insists: “If I were unable to believe that God had marked us for His chosen people, I would still believe that we were chosen to be so by our sufferings.”