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Soviet Embassy Says Amateur Yiddish Theatrical Troupe Performed in Leningrad

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The Soviet Embassy, in an obvious response to charges that the Yiddish theater in Russia has been suppressed, issued a press release here today reporting that “the Vilnius Peoples Yiddish Theater” has again appeared in Leningrad. The release disclosed, however, that the players were not professionals “but amateurs, factory workers, engineers, school teachers, office clerks and students who give up all their spare time to this.”

The Embassy reported that Faiva Abramovich and a female vocal quartet sang “Hava Nagila” and drew an ovation. It said the concert featured the choral work “on the land of Oryol and Neman,” rendered in Lithuanian, Yiddish, and Russian. Also on the program, it reported, was “All Men Are Brothers” by I.L. Peretz. Yiddish folk tunes, dances, freilachs were listed.

The Soviet report said the show was “highly professional” although performers were non-professionals who were assembled to perform as amateurs. The company director was identified as “Leonid Lourie, merited art worker of Lithuania.” The report said he “has followed the directing precepts of his teacher, Solomon Mikhoels.” Mikhoels, a famous figure in the Jewish theater, was killed in the Stalin purges.

No indication was given that the “Vilnius Yiddish Company” gave more than a single performance. The last time the Yiddish players performed in Leningrad was in 1966, the Embassy said.

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