Oct. 2, The Mendel Beilis Epidemic: A Blood-Libel Trial on the Yiddish Stage
A lecture by Joel Berkowitz, director, The Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.
Wednesday October 2, 2013
Part of the "Art and Conflict: Ashkenaz and Beyond" Series
Exactly 100 years ago, in October 1913, a Russian Jewish brickyard foreman named Mendel Beilis was put on trial for the ritual murder of a Christian boy on the outskirts of Kiev. Long before the trial ended, Yiddish theatres began advertising dramatizations of it in a number of American and Canadian cities as well as London. The announcements created an uproar, as critics and readers debated the propriety of turning a grim situation right from the headlines into vehicles for entertainment. Never before had one event received so much attention at once on Yiddish stages; the Beilis plays, and the heated (and sometimes hilarious) response to them, paint of picture of the complex implications of the dramatization of current events in the Yiddish theatre.
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