Laughter Through Tears

By Jeremy Gillick Sholom Aleichem, the revered 19th century writer whose earnest, incredulous and good-natured humor came to define a century of Jewish jokes, is back. Not resurrected--Aleichem was never much of a believer, though he undoubtedly would have welcomed the Messiah into the world like an old friend into his home--but reincarnated in the body and voice of Theodore Bikel. At 84, the man who made Fiddler on the Roof into an American story--Bikel has played Tevye the Dairyman upwards of 2000 times--has brought back to life the man whose writings shaped his long and illustrious career. "Laughter Through Tears," which recently premiered at the DCJCC's Theater J and which, following it's strong reception, was extended to run through January 18th, is a one-man tribute to Sholom Aleichem. Written, acted and sung by Bikel himself, the...

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An Interview with Peter Manseau, Author of Songs for the Butcher's Daughter

By Jeremy Gillick “Rise and go to the town of the killings,” Bialik wrote of Kishinev, the Moldovan city, formerly Russian, where a 1903 Easter Sunday blood libel famously escalated into a brutal three-day pogrom. A momentous event, the pogrom both expedited the Jewish exodus from Eastern Europe and helped usher Zionism into the 20th century. “Your feet will sink in feathers,” wrote Bialik forebodingly. “Half the buds will be feathers, and their smell the smell of blood.” This image of blood and feathers in the heart of the Yiddish-speaking world is the backdrop of Peter Manseau’s new novel, Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter. As the Kishinev pogrom begins and feathers flutter from Jewish windows, Itsik Malpesh, destined to become the last great Yiddish writer, is born. Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter tells his story, from his...

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