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Gest Offers Passion Play Benefit to Jewish Theatrical Guild; Meets Refusal

May 8, 1929
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Loney Haskell, secretary of the Jewish Theatrical Guild, confirmed the report current in Broadway circles that Morris Gest offered the Guild a benefit performance of the Freiburg Passion Play, but that the association of Jewish actors on the Broadway stage, rejected the proposal.

A rumor to the effect that some members of the Guild will take steps to bring about Mr. Gest’s exclusion from the association were categorically denied. “I have heard nothing of any such move,” Mr. Haskell stated.

To the protest of Jewish leaders against the Passion Play production, there was added the protest of the Rev. Edward L. Hunt, director of America’s Good-Will Union, of which the Rev. Dr. S. Parkes Cadman is the honorary president and Justice Arthur S. Tompkins of the Supreme Court of New York is president.

Rev. Hunt, in a communication to the Jewish Daily Bulletin, making reference to the statement by Mr. Marshall, “I expect to hear what our Christian friends have to say,” declared: “In response to the leader in Israel who is held in equally high esteem by all Christians who know him, I feel sure that the vast majority of Christians and of decent Americans deplore the Passion Play presentation at the Hippodrome.

Terming the producers “Judas twins,” Rev. Hunt declares: “Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. His American twins have raised the price. Judas had the redeeming decency to hang himself when he saw the approaching crucifixion. If Morris Gest and David Belasco come to see the hideous horror of commercializing the agonies of the loyal patriot Jew who won the love of his people but brought on him the murderous hate of the corrupt ecclesiastical politicians who had the power at that time, and of the brutal Roman tyrants-if these Judas twins come to see the hideous horror of commercializing the latent anti-Semitism, that loathsome leprosy which has blighted Europe for centuries with its contagion, and which we hoped pure air of the United States would cure,-if they come to see the hideous horror of commercializing what is most sacred to millions of Christians, then I suggest a better course than the hanging of Judas. I hope they will exercise the American spirit at its best, and make the financial sacrifice necessary to redeem themselves, and stop the sacrilegious production at once and forever, here and everywhere.”

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