At the SAJM on Monday 9 September, a captivated audience was treated to a delightful talk by actor and comedian Shane Baker, who has been described by the New York Times as “one of the most prominent proponents of Yiddish theater, language and culture in New York.”
The subject of his talk was the life and times of Mina Bern, who was the last working star of the Interwar European Yiddish stage when she passed away in New York 2010. An indomitable spirit, she played on stages from the kleynkunst revue and cabaret stages of Lodz to the Soviet field hospitals of World War II. Later, she performed in the fledgling state of Israel, then branched out to Broadway and Woody Allen films. Thanks to her performing talent and larger than life personality, Mina served as mentor to many young theatre professionals, including Shane, leaving a legacy still to be felt in the Yiddish theatre today.
Seeing Mina perform inspired Shane to learn the Yiddish language, leading him to enter the world of Yiddish culture and theatre. His friendship with Mina flourished over many years and brought them both much joy. Through a series of engaging anecdotes, Shane shared the story of this unique friendship against the backdrop of Yiddish theatre in New York in the late 20th century.
His laugh-out-loud sense of humour and impressive command of the Yiddish language utterly charmed the audience, bringing alive a culture and time that many fear will soon be lost.
To download a PDF of the Chronicle for October, click here
To read the editor’s column this month, titled ‘Why we need more difficult females’ click here
To read the most read story online in September, click here