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Rabbinical Plea Against Televising ‘merchant of Venice’ Rejected

June 18, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The New York Shakespeare Festival proceeded today with plans to televise “The Merchant of Venice” despite protests by the New York Board of Rabbis.

Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz, president of the rabbinical group, said a delegation had visited New York City Parks Commissioner Newbold Morris and Joseph Papp, director of the annual summer festival. They expressed their objections to a telecast of the play, which is scheduled to be taped in New York City’s Central Park and which will be shown on the local Columbia Broadcasting System outlet, WGBS-TV.

Rabbi Moshowitz said the delegation “did not come to the meeting to question Mr. Papp’s right to produce the play. We have always fought against any form of censorship and we made it clear to Mr. Morris and Mr. Papp that we had come to reason together.”

He added that the delegation conveyed to Mr. Papp “our deep concern lest a revival of the anti-Semitic stereotype of Shylock on the television screen do great harm to intergroup amity and understanding in our city.” The delegation suggested to Mr. Papp to substitute for the program one of the other Shakespearian plays which he is producing this summer. However, Mr. Papp reacted negatively.

Rabbi Moshowitz declined to indicate what further action the Board of Rabbis planned. If no changes are made in the plans, the taped version will be telecast on Thursday night. Norman E. Walt, Jr., CBS-TV general manager, confirmed that the contract was between the festival and the station and did not involve the CBS network.

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