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Solomon Rabinovich, aka Sholem Aleichem

The best-known and best-loved Yiddish writer of all, Sholem Aleichem (pen-name of Solomon Rabinovich), was born on this date in 1859 (some sources say March 3rd) in the Ukraine, then controlled by tsarist Russia. Sholem Aleichem, whose works included Menahem-Mendl and Tevye the Dairyman (later adapted and commercialized as Fiddler on the Roof) wrote with shrewd humor and deep […]

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Bette Midler

Singer, songwriter, actress Bette Midler was born in Honolulu on this date in 1945. Her mother was a seamstress and her father a house painter. From 1966 to 1969, Midler appeared on Broadway as Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tsaytl, in Fiddler on the Roof, shortly before developing her persona as “the Divine Miss M” at the Continental […]

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The Brothel-Owner and the Milkman

SHOLEM ASCH’S GOD OF VENGEANCE COMES TO LIFE by Susan Reimer-Torn ON MARCH 26, 1923, shortly before curtain time, the cast and producers of Sholem Asch’s play, God of Vengeance (pictured above) were arrested by a vice squad and thrown into jail to await trial on obscenity charges. The arrest took place fifteen days after […]

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January 30: Two Giants of Broadway

Two giants of Broadway share this date in 1928 as birthdays: producer and director Harold (Hal) Prince, who has won a record 21 Tony Awards (eight for directing) for such shows as The Pajama Game, Cabaret, Pacific Overtures, Company, Damn Yankees, Fiddler on the Roof, Evita, Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, and numerous others; […]

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People of the Book 101

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature, by Adam Kirsch. W.W. Norton & Company, 2016, 407 pages. LITERARY CRITIC, essayist, and secular Talmudist Adam Kirsch is a 40-year-old Jewish intellectual with an extraordinary breadth and depth of knowledge. He has a regular column in the […]

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June 3: Jan Peerce

Legendary tenor Jan Peerce (Joshua Pincus Perelmuth), who launched his career in 1932 with the Radio City Music Hall Company, caught the attention of Arturo Toscanini, and launched a twenty-seven-year career at the Metropolitan Opera in 1941, was born on the Lower East Side of New York on this date in 1904. From 1941 to […]

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In Memoriam: Theodore Bikel

May 2, 1924 — July 21, 2015 by Bennett Muraskin From the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Currents THERE ARE FEW contemporary Jews who have been more steeped in the tradition of progressive yiddishkayt than Theodore Bikel. He grew up in Vienna, but after Nazi Germany took over the country in 1938, his family emigrated […]

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December 14: Sholem Aleichem on Television

The World of Sholom Aleichem was broadcast on this date in 1959, on David Susskind’s show, The Play of the Week. Written by blacklisted writer Arnold Perl (adapted from his 1953 Off-Broadway play), it was performed on camera by several actors who had themselves been victims of McCarthyism, including Morris Carnovsky, Jack Gilford, Lee Grant, […]

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Sholem Aleichem’s Show Biz Triumph

by Bennet Muraskin From the Spring, 2014 issue of Jewish Currents Reviewed in this Essay: Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, by Alisa Solomon. Metropolitan Books, 2013, 448 pages. It has been half a century since the Broadway opening of Fiddler on the Roof in 1964 — and a century […]

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