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Romance of a People Polo Grounds Sellout, to Have Two Repeats

September 10, 1933
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Mayor John P. O’Brien has declared Thursday, September 14, Jewish Day as “an expression of appreciation to a group of our fellow citizens who have contributed greatly to the cultural advance and the material progress of our city”, in recognition of the fact that on that day there will be presented at the Polo Grounds the pageant, “The Romance of a People”, which portrays the highlights of four thousand years of Jewish history.

Because of the enthusiastic response that has assured a capacity audience of about 55,000 on the first night of its presentation, September 14, the pageant will be repeated for two more nights, on Saturday evening, September 16, and Sunday evening, September 17, according to an announcement made by Nathan Straus, Jr., chairman of the committee sponsoring the production. Mr. Straus pointed out that the two additional performances will add substantially to the fund for the settlement of German Jews in Palestine. The proceeds go to the American Palesine Campaign, which is the fund-raising instrument in the United States of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. The united cooperation of every Jewish group in New York City and the encouragement provided by the formation of the Committee of Christian Friends was held responsible by Mr. Straus for the unprecedented sale of tickets.


Samuel Rosoff, subway builder and bus operator, has taken $100,000 worth of tickets for “The Romance of a People,” states Meyer W. Weisgal, executive director of the pageant. In his telegram announcing his gift, Mr. Rosoff characterized “The Romance of a People” as “one of the greatest public enterprises ever undertaken in behalf of our suffering people, an enterprise which should engage the interest of Jew and non-Jew alike.” It was also announced that Mr. Rosoff had accepted the chairmanship of the Stage Construction Committee.

A resolution expressing endorsement of the “aims, motives and aspirations” of the Jewish pageant was passed by the Assembly of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada.

A further indication that the production would be a financial success was found in the announcement by the Grand Street Boys Association that they had decided to take over the performance for Sunday night, September 17 and call it “Grand Street Boys Night.” The 10,000 members of the organization have been called upon by Abraham Bernstein, executive secretary, to attend as a body.

An appeal to Christians as well as Jews to attend “The Romance of a People” was issued on Friday by Samuel Untermyer, honorary chairman jointly with Governor Herbert H. Lehman, of the committee sponsoring the pageant.

The mighty organ and carillon of the Riverside Church, Riverside Drive and 122nd Street, will become part of the musical background of the pageant. The announcement was made by Charles H. Tuttle, chairman of the Committee of Christian Friends, which has joined with the committee headed by Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Samuel Untermyer and Nathan Straus, Jr. in sponsoring the production.

The permission to transmit the organ was given by Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick and Dr. Eugene C. Carder, ministers of the church, as an act of good will to the undertaking and as part of the Christian co-operation in the pageant depicting forty centuries of Jewish history.


The organ is being used because it is one of the greatest musical instruments in the world, and will complement the orchestra. It was felt by the musical directors of the pageant that the organ is the only instrument that can reproduce with any degree of fidelity the instruments used in anicient times.

The electrical transmission of the organ is being made possible because of the use, for the first time publicly, of a new electro-acoustical apparatus that has just been developed in the Bludworth laboratories of the Stromberg-Carlson Manufacturing Company.

A vast circular stage will hold the thousands of the chorus and the thousands of Roman legionnaires, Egyptian taskmasters, Spanish grandees and Jewish Chassidim, who will portray definite episodes in the history of the Jews. The stage was designed by Peter Clark, creator of the Radio City stages and Julian Clarence Levi, former president of the Architectural League. Not only is it built for the special problems of weight pressure and cast grouping, but special provisions had to be made for the sound amplification that is the real secret of the pageant’s uniqueness.


The pageant opens with a prologue depicting the Creation. Three thousand gayly garbed actors sway to the rhythm of a chaotic chant, expressing the emergence of man from the chaos of matter. Then follow, in swift succession, the highlights which represent Jewish history in its symbolic moments. The worship of Moloch, ended by the monotheism of Abraham; the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt and their liberation through Moses; the glory of the Jews in the days of Solomon and the destruction of the Temple by Solomon; the rich culture of the Jews in Spain and their expulsion; the longing of the Jewish people for some escape from the persecution and misery of their environment and the emergence of false Messiahs; the endless suffering through the centuries and the adoption of great masses of Jews of an attitude of joy in humility, thus hurdling the barriers of hatred and discrimination—these are the major scenes of a chronicle which has its ends in America and Palestine.

The background for this action is a vast city of scenery that stretches three hundred feet across the field.

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