Yiddish Musical Actors Picket Magazine That Won’t List Their Play

While the Yiddish musical “A Match Made in Heaven” will go on as scheduled, it will not be among the hundreds of cultural events listed weekly in The New Yorker Magazine’s “Goings on About Town” column, the subject of a continuing dispute here. (See December 12 Bulletin for background.)

The magazine’s decision not to list the Yiddish musical, which opened last October at Town Hall Theater one block east of Broadway’s theater district, today brought out a handful of demonstrators who braved the below-freezing temperatures to protest outside the magazine’s offices.

“We feel it is discriminatory,” said Stewart Figa, a member of the musical cast who plays the role of Berish. “The Yiddish Theater has always been a part of the New York cultural scene.”

Nonetheless, the New Yorker’s executive vice president, John Newhouse Jr., reiterated the publication’s position that there are “many, many shows and plays” and other cultural events in New York that are listed in the “Goings on About Town” column.

“The New Yorker Magazine does not attempt to list every show in New York, ” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It lists some shows and doesn’t list others.” As he spoke, demonstrators nearby carried placards declaring, “The New Yorker Magazine is unfair to the Yiddish Theater.”

But Newhouse pointed out that the magazine only a few weeks ago did a review of “The Golden Land,” a review of Yiddish musical songs and klezmer music that tells the story of immigrants to the U.S.

ONGOING CONTROVERSY

The controversy, brewing for several weeks, has resulted in charges of unfairness and discrimination being filed with the state and city human rights divisions against the magazine by the musical’s producer, Raymond Ariel. In addition, charges have been filed with the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Carol Lister, director of the ADL’s New York office, said the ADL has reviewed the dispute and “while we may not necessarily agree with the editorial judgement of the magazine, we do not feel it is discriminatory.” She confirmed that Newhouse is a member of the ADL’s New York regional board, but added “this has nothing to do with” the ADL judgement.

Ariel charged that the magazine is discriminating because it omitted the Yiddish play from the section that “lists every Broadway show now playing, as well as some 50 other Off-Off Broadway and Off-Broadway shows.”

The cast and others involved in the play said the musical is the major Yiddish production in New York and Broadway and refusing to list it is harmful to the show, and to the company of more than 30.

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