Miriam Rinn’s review of “Shlemiel the First” (Dec. 23) reports a change of direction for the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene. I would like to correct what is in fact an error of omission by your excellent theatre critic.
This venerable Yiddish theatre company company is by no means abandoning shows entirely in Yiddish. Rather, it is committed to presenting what I would characterize as a balanced diet of shows, in a variety of languages, all of which are derived from Yiddish sources. Later this season, we are presenting three entirely new short plays in Yiddish.
In these modern times, the preservation of Yiddish as a vibrant and still-relevant cultural legacy needs to be approached in new and innovative ways. With fewer native speakers, we need to be willing to attract and recruit new adherents, new supporters, and new artists. We can, if we produce a variety of shows that give a diverse audience a number of different ways to connect with Yiddish.
Be assured that this new commitment to diversity does not come at the expense of the language itself. To achieve our mandate to nurture Yiddish’s profoundly important place in our culture, we will never deprive our audiences of hearing the language in full bloom, performed and spoken with effortless fluency. To do this would be a tragic oversimplification of our mandate.