Association of Jewish Refugees - Aug. 01, 2007


Letter to the Editor
Sir – On reading the May issue (Letters), I find I made a mistake about Theodore Bikel’s performance of with my mother. The play was Sholem Aleichem’s "Shver tsu zany a yid" (‘Hard To Be a Jew’) and it was performed in Vienna, not London. Theodore Bikel was 13 years old.

My son David and I went to Vienna to attend the World Congress of Jewish Theatre on 19-23 March this year. Theodore Bikel gave an extraordinary concert of songs in various languages. When he came off-stage, I introduced myself to him as ‘Ruti Meisels’, which was how he knew me as a child. It reminded both of us of the good old days in Vienna.

The conference was called Tikun Olam (Healing the World) and David and I were performing a programme called "Nicht Mehr Hier" ("No Longer Here"). My father had written an article under that name after going in 1955 to the International Pen Club, held in Vienna, when the Russians had only recently left. My father wanted to find out what had happened to the people and places he had known before the Anschluss. Whenever he enquired, the answer was always ‘Nicht mehr hier’.

David and I put on a performance based on the article and my memories followed by a discussion. Part of the reason we were there was to help the new Austrian-Jewish theatre [Jewish Theater of Austria] (under the charismatic director Warren Rosenzweig) in their campaign to reclaim the Nestroyhof, home of the Yiddish theatre in Vienna before the war, where my father and mother had both appeared (we knew it as the Reklam).

It was particularly affecting to see Yiddish returning to Vienna, often with non-Jewish performers (the actress who performed with us in Yiddish sings for a klezmer band called Goyim!) and to see that Jewish/Yiddish theatre does have a future in Vienna.

Ruth Schneider, London N8

Copyright © 2007 AJR - Association of Jewish Refugees