Life for peasants in 19th century Eastern Europe was extremely harsh. In addition to poverty, powerlessness, wars, revolutions and disease experienced in common with the general population, Jews suffered from anti-Semitism and pogroms. Escape through Jewish humor, legends, superstitions and religious belief helped them face the daily injustices.
Jewish writers' work reflected Jewish life. Some appreciated Jewish folk values and wove them into their stories. H. Leivick's plays reflected his urge to resist oppression and to destroy autocratic regimes; I. J. Singer portrayed traditional Judaism practiced for generations and the changes occurring in its world. And Sholom Aleichem, one of the best known and loved Yiddish writers, saw humor in the everyday misery of Jewish life; he used comedy to illustrate the rootless Jewish existence, the power of capitalism, and recovery from defeat. His stories brought laughter so his audiences could retain a sense of equilibrium.
For Jews in Czarist Russia, life was very difficult. Exchanging identities with a Jewish student, a Russian student learns "Shver Zu Zein A Yid."
Players include: Leopold Hurwitz, Paul Melrood, Bess Lerner, Harry Perlstein, Leon Goldberg, Jack Futterman, Ida Bursten, Minnie Futterman, Charlotte Goldberg, Isadore Tepper
Set in Czarist Russia, a Jewish milkman attempts to find suitable husbands for his daughters. This story was the basis for the musical, "Fiddler on the Roof."
Players include: Henry Lerner, Norman Tugenberg, Mel Shikora, Becky Solochek, Jack Joseph, Isadore Tepper
Like the stories of famous Biblical twins and brothers, this Polish Jewish family saga shows how one twin brother leads a life of righteousness while the other strives for gold and power.
Players include: Isadore Tepper, Harry Perlstein
Many Jews believed in the concept of a dybbuk, a transmigrating soul. The play's universe is of Eastern European Jews in which all people are responsible for each other.
Players include: Harry Perlstein
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