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July 15, 1983 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-07-15

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

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

28 Friday, July 15, 1983

Goldstein Prize

Israelis Flock to See Play About a Self-Hating Jew

By CARL ALPERT

HAIFA — If an
American playwright were
to present a drama in which
Judaism is presented as a
pollution, and Jews as the
lowest dregs of humanity,
the Jewish community
would be up in arms against
this obviously blatant
flaunting of virulent anti-
Semitism. But if a play built
around that theme is writ-
ten and presented in Israel,
before Israeli audiences, the
local critics refer to its
"honest self-examination"

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and its "incisive" handling
of anti-Semitism and of
Zionism.
The play in question is
entitled "Nefesh Yehudi —
A Jewish Soul," and it is
written by Yehoshua Sobol.
Israel's masochistic
theater-goers have flocked
to see it. And now it has
merited a great honor. It
has been selected as the
opening event in the famous
Edinburgh Festival to be
held in August, to be per-
formed in Hebrew with
simultaneous English
translation.
Jews in the audience will
squirm with embarrass-
ment, shame and indigna-
tion, but the canny mana-
gers of the festival need not
be on the defensive. After
all, was this play not writ-
ten by a Jew and well re-
ceived in Israel?

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In recent years, Israel's
avant-garde theater has
specialized in plays
which examine and es-
pose every weakness,
real or imagined, in
Jewish character and in
Israeli life. The more in-
tense the bitterness and
the greater the self-
flagellation, the more
popular the plays. Some
have sunk so low in their
disgusting self-
denigration that they
have been hooted off the
boards, but still the audi-
ences come to revel in the
mud bath.
"A Jewish Soul" is based
on the true life story of a
demented young Jewish
genius, Otto Weininger,
who lived in Vienna at the
turn of the century and
committed suicide in 1903
at the age of 23. Sobo! skil-
fully turns Weininger's
philosophical observations
into a well-constructed
drama. Let's overlook the
sex; after all, that is in fash-
ion and is supposed to be a
hallmark of avant-garde
theater.
The night we saw the play
presented by the Haifa
Theater we could not be-
lieve our ears, and had to
purchase a copy of the text
to make sure we had not
been mistaken. In scene
after scene Weininger rants
on. He talks of the Jew as
categorized by ethical
wasteland, nothingness in
spirit, disbelieving in law
and order, a perpetual
anarchist from birth. Jews
are the lowest dregs of hu-
manity.

CHICAGO (JTA) — The
Jewish Federation of Met-
ropolitan Chicago and eight
of its social welfare and
health care agencies have
launched a massive new ef-
fort to halt and reverse suf-
fering among the city's eco-
nomically disadvantaged
and vulnerable Jews, it was

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ing call for all who call
themselves liberals, and
plays like this, and others,
continue to dominate and
defile the stage in Israel.
Israel has been seeking to
increase its exports — ag-
ricultural, industrial and
cultural. We now have a
great new product: pack-
aged anti-Semitism. The
non-Jewish audience in
Edinburgh will lap it up,
especially because it is a
genuine product of the de-
generate Jewish people who
are the evil (self-
acknowledged) of the West-
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announced by Herbert
Wander, federation
president.
The actions, authorized
June 27 by the federation
board, are budgeted at
$715,000. They were called
the "first phase" of response
to a federation study which
identified some 37,000 eco-
nomically disadvantaged
and vulnerable Jews living
in the Chicago area.
The study, known as the
"Planning Project on Serv-
ices to the Economically
Disadvantaged," recom-
mends 66 programs to
bridge service gaps and im-
prove programming for the
Jewish poor, Wander said.
The report noted that
the services most needed
by the economically dis-
advantaged include
home delivered meals,
social service counseling,
job skills, nutrition pro-
grams, residential treat-
ment, vocational re-
habilitation, homemaker
and home-health care
services and specialized
transportation.This
marks the first time since
the Great Depression
that needs for such basic
services have been so
high, the report stated.
The board action called
for the implementation of
15 additional programs
which will be fully opera-
tive within six to 12 months.

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To Weininger, Judaism
was a tragedy, a blemish,
the source of all evil. "I be-
long to a cursed race," he
shouts. "Judaism is a pollu-
tion. The Aryan spirit will
vomit out this filth."
Weininger's - writings
lived on after him, and
naturally served as source
books for those who needed
justification for their anti-
Semitism. Hitler is said to
have commented that
Weininger was the only Jew
who had the tight to live,
because he recognized that
the Aryans had to be
cleansed of contaminations
like this.
The embittered writer
drove himself to mad-
ness, converted to Chris-
tianity and then commit-
ted suicide.
If Sobol had intended to
show the absurdity of
Weininger's philosophy he
has failed miserably. In-
stead he gives this intellec-
tual maniac the center of
the stage from which, in
scene after scene, he spouts
his anti-Semitic drivel, and
other nonsense which is of
no immediate concern here.
"The Merchant of Venice"
is a mild and innocent pas-
toral compared to the vici-
ous anti-Semitism of "A
Jewish Soul." There have
been protests against the
play in Israel, but spokes-
men of the theatrical estab-
lishment hastened to con-
demn "the self-appointed
guardians of spurious val-
ues" and charged censor-
ship. The very word is
enough to serve as a rally-

JERUSALEM (JTA) —
Fritz David Frank, a resi-
dent of South Africa, was
awarded the Israel Golds-
tein Prize for his work on
behalf of Keren Hayesod
and Zionism. The award
was presented to him at a
ceremony hosted by
President Chaim Herzog at
the presidential residence.

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