A New Play about the Yiddish Theater’s Most Famous Scandal

When Sholem Asch wrote his play God of Vengeance in 1907, he was not yet established as one of the major figures of 20th-century Yiddish literature. The play became famous, in part, because of a scene in which two women kiss. (In 1923, after the play was performed in English on Broadway, the entire cast was arrested for obscenity.) The scandal that surrounded the play is the topic of a new play, Indecent, now at the Yale Repertory Theater. Josh Lambert writes in his review:

Indecent insists on itself as artifice, confection, . . . which is fitting, because what remains fascinating about God of Vengeance is that it was a work of pure fiction, the product of Asch’s imagination, which had profound effects in the real world. One of the most striking moments in Indecent is a brilliant bit of staging as [the] actors perform the final, heart-wrenching lines of God of Vengeance—in which the brothel-owning father heaves his daughter, and the Torah scroll he has bought for her, down into the cellar—four times, rotating them 90 degrees each time.

It’s as if we’re watching it first from the wings and backstage, and only finally seeing the conventional perspective the fourth time. This turns Asch’s moment of high drama into comedy—funny because it grants us a palpable sense of the uncanniness that theater companies must experience as they perform an intensely emotional crescendo night after night.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arts & Culture, Broadway, Homosexuality, Jewish literature, Sholem Asch, Yiddish theater


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security