«Jewish Observer»
April 2002
5762 Iyar

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In the morning I looked out from the window and saw it was snowing...

"There will, probably, come only a few spectators, and we have been rehearsing so hard!" - I thought about the scheduled for that day performance of our theatre dedicated to the 143rd anniversary of Sholom Aleikhem's birthday. I was, luckily, mistaken - the audience began showing up long before the beginning of the concert.

The centuries-old history has closely connected the Ukrainian and Jewish peoples. We are always glad to see in the auditorium our friends of different nationalities residing in Belaya Tserkov. This time we welcomed representatives of the city Russian culture society "Rus". It is headed by the famous in Ukraine poetess Tatiana Sharova who was among the founders of the city Jewish culture society named after Sholom Aleikhem and even was an honorable member of its Board. We also welcomed the Greeks headed by Natalia Varenik who arrived with flowers, books and records of folk music.

The Merited Artist of Ukraine Vladimir Repin told in his speech about the unity of national cultures and about the creative work of Sholom Aleikhem. We are always very glad to welcome the city Rabbi Meir Oltsberg and his wife Braha at our parties. Following the long established tradition the Chairman of the Jewish community Khariton Berman opened the party. Everybody was genuinely interested in his story about Sholom Aleikhem's life episodes connected with our city.

In 1880 an unknown but very communicative and attentive young fellow Sholom Rabinovich came to Belaya Tserkov as a secretary of lawyer Epelbaum. Namely here several years later he writes his first stories and essays. The prototypes of his heroes were the city inhabitants residing, in particular, in the Berdichevskaya street (now the Bogdan Khmelnitsky street). The author signs his works with the pseudonym Sholom Aleikhem. We, the inhabitants of Belaya Tserkov, are proud that Sholom Aleikhem was born in our city as a writer.

"Ukraine was an inexhaustible source for Sholom Aleikhem's creative work. There were entirely Jewish small towns and villages here whose inhabitants he described with love and affection. His name is particularly honored in our city. The proof to this is one central street that bears his name", -such were the words we began our performance with.

The verses dedicated to Sholom Aleikhem alternated with the songs about localities he was so much fond of. The songs were both in Yiddish and in Ukrainian. And, of course, there were scenes from the writer's works. Naturally, our actor's craft is not perfect yet (we are an amateur theatre), but the applause the spectators awarded the actors inspired our self-confidence. As always, the audience warmly greeted Mikhail Mazyuk, who performed songs by Shimel Soroker and the famous "Gop chik-chak". Faces lit up with smiles when the spectators listened to the youngest participant of our collective Lena Kushnir reading the monologue of the boy Mottle.

And Sholom Aleikhem's story "American Wonders" evoked real animation of the audience. Leonid Gutman played the part of Berl Aizik, and Rosa Chernovol, Lubov Yunosheva, Oksana Mazyuk wonderfully played up to him. But the hit of the program was the scene "Restaurants in Kasrilov" performed by Zhanna Chernitskaya and Alexander Yarmolyuk. The laughter in the auditorium didn't subside during the entire scene. The elderly audience particularly liked well-designed costumes and the original interpretation of the image of the hostess of, if one may so call it, "the restaurant". The orchestra consisting of Svetlana Dzuman, Nikolay Rudyansky, Valeriy Kats and its head Felix Kushnir played wonderful Jewish melodies. In the end of the program I shared my thoughts about the fate of the Jewish people with the audience and then sang my song "Talk with Jews". Judging by the fact that the spectators asked to repeat it, they liked the song. Performances of our theatre are also the ground for communication we all lack. That's why people were in no hurry to leave the theatre when the concert was over. They exchanged impressions, discussed the community's life as well as the events in Ukraine and abroad. We, the actors of the Jewish people's theatre "Gute freint", try to do our best in these difficult times to bring joy to people with a good Jewish song and joke. Sholom Aleikhem is our best assistant in this.


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© 2002 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org