30 April 2007

New York: A play to offend everyone

The Jewish Voice and Opinion (Englewood, New Jersey), is, according to its Web site, a politically conservative Jewish publication which presents news and feature articles not generally available elsewhere in the Jewish or secular media.

For something you won't read anywhere else - for sure - try this article by editor Susan Rosenbluth, about the Jewish Theater of New York's current production, "Last Jew in Europe."

Poland may be trying to shed its reputation as a hot bed of antisemitism, one that, today, must exist virtually without Jews (living, that is; Poland has often been called "one giant Jewish cemetery"), but, in this effort, the country will receive no help from Tuvia Tenenbom.

Tenenbom, the artistic director of the Jewish Theater of New York, describes the Lodz, Poland, locale of the play "an antisemite’s paradise, right in the middle of the EU, where anti-Jewish declarations are graphically exhibited in almost every street corner and calls for sending Jews back to the gas chambers go unchallenged."

The play's characters: The possibly Jewish Jozef (but who thinks he is) who fears his anti-semitic fiancee Maria will find out, and John, a young American Mormon "who arrives in Lodz to research the genealogy of dead Polish Jews so that they can be 'baptized' in an after-death proxy ceremony back in Salt Lake City."

The article addresses Tenenbom's extended vist to Radzyn, Poland to see where his great-grandparents once lived and where an ancestor established the Chasidic dynasty called the Radzyner Court. At one stop, a man tells him he couldn't sleep because "there are too many Jews in the world."

In Radzyn, once home to a Jewish majority, the Polish government built a neighborhood on top of the cemetery in 1957. Tenenbom meets a woman who lives in one of the houses and believes the dead Jews under her house have brought her luck, and are the reason for her "sweet apples."

And Tenenbom mentions his visit to Utah, including a computer center which houses the Mormon sect’s genealogical databases. There, he discovered that his grandfather was among those whom the Mormons had baptized by post-mortem proxy.
"What a fate for a Jew: Turned into a Mormon in the US, into fertilizer in Poland," says Mr. Tenenbom.

The article goes on to discuss Tenenbom's belief that the Polish Embassy and Consulate are pressuring the New York Times not to review the production.

For more information, www.JewishTheater.org

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