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‘passion Play’ Opens in England; Anti-semitic Parts Retained

A production of the Oberammergau Passion Play depicting the crucifixion of Jesus — presented by a company of amateur players from Oberammergau and the neighboring village of Thiersee in West Germany where the play originated three centuries ago — opened at the Bellevue Arena here last night, after sharp criticism of the production forced a number of Jewish impresarios to withdraw from their association with the play.

The production was brought to England in spite of objections to anti-Semitic portions of the text. Last fall, Oberammergau village officials refused to alter the anti-Semitic text. The anti-Semitic implications of the current production were apparent in the crucifixion scene shown to an audience here that included many children. Emphasis was placed in the characterization of the Jews as wicked with no real attempt to explain the Jewish case in any objective way.

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