Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Knish Speaks

Today, our guestblogger, journalist Laura Silver, shares her recent adventures with knishes.

In 1908 when Abraham Goldfaden, the father of Yiddish theater, died, The New York Times reported a funeral procession of 75,000. In 1926 two thousand mourners crowded Kessler’s Second Avenue Theater to pay respects to Jacob P. Adler, a great of the Yiddish stage.

On Sunday, October 10, 2010, there were 10 of us: Jews, Catholics, New Yorkers, Canadians, a friend from Boston, a Yiddish enthusiast from the Bronx and two women from St. Marks Place. All gathered for a solemn processional on Second Avenue to call attention for the oft-overlooked landmarks of the Yiddish Theater.

Knish Alley Revival, part of the Conflux Festival, stepped off a few minutes after 4:00 p.m. from Abe Lebewohl Park, on the northwest corner of East 10th Street and Second Avenue.

Clad in a foam knish costume (yours truly), a yellow raincoat and headband of “Caution" tape (the Bronx Yiddishist), transparent yellow raincoats, sun-colored hair clips, scarves and bracelets, we marched northward, past the historical signs on the church fence to the Village East Cineplex. We entered and bowed to the plaque honoring Jewish actors who graced the building’s stage from 1926 to the 1940s, when the strip from 14th Street to Houston was known as the Yiddish Rialto, or Knish Alley, thanks to then-ubiquitous dairy restaurants.

We crossed Second Avenue, proceeded downtown to the Yiddish Walk of Fame in front of the Chase Bank that was the 2nd Avenue Deli until early 2006, and stopped to read names like Molly Picon, Abraham Goldfaden, Jacob P. Adler, and Fyvush Finkel, whose eponymous show at the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater just opened on Thursday, October 17 on Lexington Avenue.

For me the next act is continuing work on The Book of Knish: Loss, Longing and the Search for a Humble Hunk of Dough and a Kickstarter campaign that continues through November 1.

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