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December 04, 1981 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

16 Friday, December 4, 1961



Propose Consuls
to Process Olim

Wayne State Alumni

Please Call

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Jerry Gerger

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The outgoing director gen-
eral of the Absorption
Ministry, Azriel Waldman,
has publicly proposed that
processing of would-be im-
migrants abroad should be
handled by Israeli govern-
ment diplomats (consuls)
and no longer by Jewish
Agency emissaries.

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Lotte Lenya in Memoriam


When the Nazis came to
power in 1933 they sent
word to one of Germany's
leading actresses: they
would in no way interfere
with her rapidly rising
career,- if she would only di-
vorce that "Jew-composer"
Kurt Weill.
Instead of an answer the
Weills rapidly packed their
bags, escaped (via London
and Paris) to the United
States and one year later
Lotte Lenya stood on a New
York stage, performing —
in a minor role — in Kurt
Weill's first American mus-
ical, "The Eternal Road."
"That was an opening to
end all openings," she told
me a few years ago. "So
many persons I knew then
only from newspaper ac-
counts, including members
of FDR's family, came
backstage after the perfor-
mance. Many were crying.
Kurt had combined ancient
Jewish liturgical music
with very modern rhythms
and sounds as a score for
Franz Werfel's biblical
drama. I felt that Israel's
road, the glory and the suf-
fering, were evoked in one
single drama."
Beginning with The
Eternal Road" Lenya
helped Weill every step of
the way towards a new
career in America. She
became the faithful
guardian and per-

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petuator of his musical
heritage, often through
her own brilliant perfor-
mances, and especially
after Weill's premature
death in 1950, when he
was only 50 years old.
In the process Lenya be-
came a Broadway and Hol-
lywood star in her own right
and she reconquered, after
the war, her continent-wide
fame in Europe. On opening
night of Brecht's "Mother
Courage" at the Gel-
nhausen Theater Festival
the audience stood and
cheered her title-role per-
formance for'more than 15
I knew Lenya since 1954,
when I started translating
songs and libretti for her re-
cordings, and we stayed
friends till her death (of
cancer) last Friday. She
came to Detroit on what
would have been Weill's
80th birthday two years ago
and participated in a rous-
ing tribute to him, spon-
sored by Wayne State's
Center for Peace and Con-
flict Studies.
She went onstage before
intermission, gave serious
answers to my questions on
Weill ("he was a consistent
composer; there is no 'break'
between his European and
American period") and she
clowned with State Sen.
Jack Faxon, who presented
her with an award from the
state of Michigan. "You
want to know how I did that
trick of killing a man with
my boot in that James Bond
film 'To Russia With Love?'
she mimicked. "Well, let me
show you!" Sen. Faxon, in
mock fear, feigned a quick
Lenya, as her friends
called her, met Weill
when she was 17. It was
love at first sight, which
even conquered the
hearts of her formidable
in-laws. The older Weill,
himself a composer of
Jewish liturgical music,
was then cantor at the
well-known synagogue in
Dessau, Germany.
It stayed a close marriage
through all the way sta-
tions: Weill heard all his
melodies, in his inner ear,
through the timbre of her
voice. She, in turn, tried to
preserve his work authenti-
cally and consistent with
his artistic intentions. As
recently as the last two
years she was the driving
spirit behind the revival of
two Weill works, "The Rise
and Fall of the City of

Mahagonny" at the Met-
ropolitan Opera (which was
also performed here in De-
troit) and "Silver Lake" at
the City Opera Company.
And through her founding
of the Kurt Weill Founda-
tion she is keeping' Weill's
oeuvre (work) alive beyond
her own death.
When I heard of her death
last week my memory
reached back across nearly
30 years. There was the
time when she sang
parody devoted to my son
his Bar Mitzva party or the
numerous times when she
stepped on a New York
stage, in "Threepenny Op-
era," in "Seven Deadly
Sins," in "Cabaret," in
"Brecht on Brecht," in con-
certs, and the applause for
her stopped the show.
And there was the time
last year when she greeted
Wayne State Board
Member Millie Jeffrey, my
wife, and me, at a New York
hotel, coming towards us
with a dance step straight
out of a Kurt Weill musical.
She was then 82, looked 20
years younger, and we felt
she could go on stage right
then — and forever.

Rights Day Tied
to Syrian Jewry

NEW YORK — The Uni-
versity Service Department
of the American Zionist
Federation is concentrating
on the plight of Syrian
Jewry on Human Rights
Day next Thursday.
Materials on the plight of
Syrian Jews will be distri-
buted on 160 U.S. college



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