National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Presents Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Director Joel Grey With Lifetime Achievement Award, Honors Mark & Audrey Mlotek at Summer Benefit Concert on July 15, 2019
Cast of the Drama Desk Award-winning Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish perform at benefit, which raises money to support the world’s oldest continuously operating Yiddish theatre company—
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) held its annual Summer Benefit Concert on Monday, July 15, presenting Tony- and Academy Award-winning actor and Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish director Joel Grey with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding work in film, television, and theatre; and honoring longtime supporters Mark and Audrey Mlotek.
The celebration featured performances by the cast and orchestra of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, currently running at Stage 42. NYTF’s production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish has won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Off-Broadway Alliance Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and a NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award special citation, and has been nominated for Drama League Awards and a Chita Rivera Award.
National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Managing Director Carol Levin and Executive Vice-President Sandy Cahn delivered welcoming remarks, noting, “Our Folksbiene carries out a precious mission to preserve the thousand-year-old Eastern European Jewish culture which sustained the generations before us and bring it forward into the next hundred years for the generations which will follow us.”
The benefit, held every year at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, supports the programs of NYTF, the oldest Yiddish theatre in the world and longest consecutively-producing theatre in the United States.
“So much has happened from the beginning of this amazing Fiddler Afn Dakh in this amazing space,” said Joel Grey, best known for his Tony- and Academy Award-winning performance as the Emcee in Cabaret, in his acceptance speech. “This dictionary defines honor as the respect and esteem shown to another and I humbly accept this honor.”
The Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish cast members performing at the concert were: Steven Skybell, Jennifer Babiak, Joanne Borts, Lisa Fishman, Kirk Geritano, John Giesige, Abby Goldfarb, Samantha Hahn, Cameron Johnson, Ben Liebert, Moshe Lobel, Stephanie Lynne Mason, Evan Mayer, Rosie Jo Neddy, Raquel Nobile, Jonathan Quigley, Nick Raynor, Bruce Sabath, Kayleen Seidl, Drew Seigla, Adam B. Shapiro, Jodi Snyder, James Monroe Števko, Bobby Underwood, Mikhl Yashinsky, and Rachel Zatcoff.
The concert also featured special appearances by former Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish cast member Daniel Kahn and star of NYTF’s upcoming production of Hannah Senesh, Lexi Rabadi. Hannah Senesh begins previews on July 24 and opens on July 28.
Audience members also were treated to remarks by Mikhl Baran, who has dedicated his life to yiddishkayt and education, and Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York. Also attending the celebration were New York State Senator Liz Krueger, New York State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright and her husband Jay Hershenson, New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, and Hal Luftig and Jana Robbins, producers of the Off-Broadway Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.
Throughout the 2019-2020 season—its season of “Spiritual Resistance”—NYTF is featuring artistic and theatrical works that explore themes of struggle against oppression. The programming provides artistic expression concurrent with the exhibition Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away. being presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
“When the Museum of Jewish Heritage announced that they were offering the ground breaking exhibit “Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away.”, we knew that we had to put together a season that matched the depth and gravity of such a profound collection,” said NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek. “So we put together a remarkable series of plays, musicals, concerts and readings which we call “Spiritual Resistance.” Not all of the selected works are Holocaust related. But each tells the story of how Jewish culture has endured trials from anti-Semitic oppression to the forgetfulness brought on by assimilation and the ravages of time.”
Mark and Audrey Mlotek, who have been among the most generous supporters of NYTF for the past 20 years, also were honored at the benefit. Mark Mlotek is the President of NYTF and the Chief Strategic Officer and Executive Vice President of Henry Schein, Inc.
“Everyone who knows us knows how important it is to keep Yiddish culture alive and vibrant,” said Mark Mlotek. “Our culture – when presented professionally – is truly a gift to nurture and to treasure. I thank you all for joining us in our work. May we go from strength to strength.”
Audrey Mlotek emphasized the profound impact of Yiddish language and culture on her own childhood. “I have learned how important it is to keep Yiddish alive, and because of the NYTF it’s possible,” she said. “Through its beautiful music and wonderful theater, we’re able to pass this language to the next generation”.
Now celebrating its 105th season, the Drama Desk Award-winning National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) is the longest consecutively producing theatre in the US and the world’s oldest continuously operating Yiddish theatre company. NYTF is in residence at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Under the artistic direction of Zalmen Mlotek, NYTF is dedicated to creating a living legacy through the arts, connecting generations and bridging communities. NYTF aims to bring history to life by reviving and restoring lost and forgotten work, commissioning new work, and adapting pre-existing work for the 21st Century. Serving a diverse audience comprised of performing arts patrons, cultural enthusiasts, Yiddish-language aficionados and the general public, the company presents plays, musicals, concerts, lectures, interactive educational workshops and community-building activities in English and Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles accompanying performances. NYTF provides access to a century-old cultural legacy and inspires the imaginations of the next generation to contribute to this valuable body of work.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is presenting the most comprehensive exhibition about Auschwitz ever seen in North America, Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away. until January 3, 2020. (Tickets are available now at auschwitz.nyc.) The exhibition features more than 700 original objects and photographs from over 20 international institutions, including rare artifacts. As visitors walk through the 20 thematic galleries, they will see the development of Nazi ideology and the transformation of Auschwitz from an ordinary Polish town known as Oświęcim to the most significant Nazi site of the Holocaust—at which ca. 1 million Jews, and tens of thousands of others, were murdered. This exhibition was produced in partnership with the international exhibition firm Musealia and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.
Meyer Harroch – New York Jewish Guide