3: Article excerpts, "Filth and Vileness on the Yiddish Stage in New York," October 18, 1907.
Upon the premiere of The God of Vengeance on the New York Yiddish stage in 1907, a fierce debate was ignited among the city's leading Yiddish newspapers. Abe Cahan, the famed editor of the progressive newspaper Forverts, praised the drama, and printed it in its entirety from October 19 to October 30. On the other hand, around the same time an article appeared in the Morgen zhurnal (Jewish Morning Journal), an Orthodox Yiddish newspaper, presenting a blistering, ad hominem attack on the play, its author, its actors, and even its audiences. This resource is comprised of excerpts from that article, including those making reference to the "unnatirlikhe liebe tsvishen froyen un froyen oder mener mit mener" ("unnatural love between women and women or men and men") that is said to be depicted in the play. (Rows of asterisks represent the beginning of a new excerpt from later in the article.) Interestingly, the author, identified as A. Tanenboym, admits to not having seen the play and having no plans to see it, but bases his judgments on descriptions of its content as reported in other Yiddish newspapers.
Suggested Activity: Have your students read the article in English and, if they have some Yiddish ability, in the original as well. Lead a discussion: on what grounds is the writer attacking the play? What are his main problems with it? Do you think such judgments are fair from someone who has not yet seen the play and has only read about it? Is there anything about the Jewish position in the United States in 1907 that may have contributed to the writer's emotional reaction? Can you imagine such an angry review being written today? If so, by whom and about what?
Source: A. Tanenboym, "Shmuts un nidertrekhtigkayt af der idisher bihne in nyu york" ("Filth and Vileness on the Yiddish Stage in New York"), Der morgen zhurnal (New York: October 18, 1907), 5, translated by Michael Yashinsky. Retrieved from http://jpress.nli.org.il/Olive/APA/NLI/sharedpages/SharedView.Page.aspx?sk=49FB9D82&href=TJM/1907/10/18&page=5, accessed January 23, 2018.