the dybbukast

The Dybbukast

What do poems, plays, and other creative texts from throughout history tell us about the times in which they were written? And what do they reveal about the forces still at play in our contemporary societies?  
 

Jewish communities, for a good deal of recorded time, have been spread across much of the globe, often existing as minority groups within a variety of dominant cultures. As such, the creative works generated, read, and listened to in these communities can provide glimpses into the ways in which people navigate challenging cultural waters.
 

Through a combination of performed readings and interviews with artists and scholars, The Dybbukast brings these creations and their historical contexts to life, all while revealing their relationships to issues still present today.

New episodes are released on the second Friday of the month.

 

episode 5: "Henry Ford and The International Jew"

coming March 12, 2021

We’re joining forces with the Association for Jewish Studies to co-produce a special podcast episode that explores Henry Ford’s publication of The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, a four volume series containing newspaper articles which were originally published from 1920-1922. These writings were based on – and included elements of – the notorious, fraudulent text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The episode will have a simultaneous release on The Dybbukast and AJS’s Adventures in Jewish Studies.

 

Hosted by Jeremy Shere and Aaron Henne, the episode features interviews with AJS members Dr. Pamela Nadell, Professor and Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s & Gender History and Director, Jewish Studies Program at American University, and Dr. Lisa Leff, Professor of History at American University and Director, Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Under examination are the ways in which The International Jew intersected with historical antisemitism and the political forces of the time, and how its legacy is still having an impact today.

 

episode 4: "The Murdered Jewess"

Episode four, presented in collaboration with The Contemporary Jewish Museum, explores two murder pamphlets, "The Murdered Jewess Sara Alexander: Life, Trial and Conviction of Rubenstein the Polish Jew" and "Rubenstein, or The Murdered Jewess: Being a Full and Reliable History of This Terrible Mystery of Blood.” Published in 1876, both pamphlets tell the tale of Pesach Rubenstein, a Jewish immigrant who was convicted of killing his cousin, Sara Alexander, and disposing of her body in a cornfield. The case was a sensation in the press and took hold of the popular imagination.

 

Dr. Eddy Portnoy, Academic Advisor and Director of Exhibitions at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and author of Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press (Stanford University Press 2017), discusses the story behind the pamphlets as the first significant intersection of Jews, the local and national press, and the American judicial system.

THE TEAM

Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Eddy Portnoy, PhD

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Featuring the voices of Julie A. Lockhart, Clay Steakley, Rebecca RasmussenDiana Tanaka, and Mark McClain Wilson

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S. 

"The Murdered Jewess" Learning Resources

Selections from the pamphlets:

"The Murdered Jewess Sara Alexander:

Life, Trial and Conviction of

Rubenstein the Polish Jew"

"Rubenstein, or The Murdered Jewess:

Being a Full and Reliable History of

This Terrible Mystery of Blood.”

Exercises For Educators:

 

youth learners

 

 

adult and teen learners

Presented in collaboration with The Contemporary Jewish Museum.

The CJM makes the diversity of the Jewish experience relevant for a twenty-first century audience and aims to be an engaging forum for diverse audiences where new perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas thrive.

This episode is a companion piece to Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years (now on view at The CJM). In the exhibit, Los Angeles-based artist Stephen Berkman’s immersive photography installation is a tribute to Shimmel Zohar, a mythical nineteenth-century Jewish immigrant photographer and founder of Zohar Studios. The exhibition includes over thirty photographs, several large installations, a cabinet of curiosities, and a large format artist book about the Zohar project.

Also From Our Artists

Dressing the Story

To accompany the episode, theatre dybbuk's resident costume designer, Kathryn Poppen, has created designs for two of the characters in the tale as they might be played by our two main readers in the episode. In the gallery below you can see costume designs for Sara Alexander, as she might be played by Julie A. Lockhart, and for Detective Zundt, as he might be played by Clay Steakley.

Sara Alexander

This mood board for Sara Alexander compiles photos of women from the time with dresses, shawls, colors, and textures. This board serves as both research and inspiration for the final design.

Sara Alexander

Final costume concept rendering for Sara Alexander

Detective Zundt

This mood board for Detective George Zundt collages images of men from the time in both casual and professional dress and with a variety of facial hair styles that may be incorporated into the design.

Detective George Zundt

Final costume concept rendering for Detective George Zundt

 

episode 3: "The Death of My Aunt"

Episode three, presented in collaboration with the Yiddish Book Center, investigates "The Death of My Aunt," a short story written in Yiddish by Blume Lempel and published in 1975. The story moves through time and space as a woman whose aunt has died deals with mourning the loss of this figure whose past came to life as her present grew dim.

 

Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, whose book Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories includes their English translations of this and many other of Lempel's stories, reveal the intricacies contained within the narrative and discuss the ways in which it touches on immigrant experiences, emotional dislocation, and familial connection.

THE TEAM

Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Featuring the voices of Julie A. Lockhart, Clay SteakleyDiana Tanaka, and Mark McClain Wilson, with Yiddish from the original text read by Miri Koral of the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S. 

"The Death of My Aunt" Learning Resources

“The Death of My Aunt” is featured in its English translation in the book, Oedipus in Brooklyn and Other Stories, published by Mandel Vilar Press and Dryad Press. The book is available, with free shipping to anywhere in the United States, from either of these publishers. More information can be found at www.dryadpress.com or www.mvpublishers.org.

Ellen Cassedy and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub discuss their translation of Blume Lempel's work at the Library of Congress.

Exercises For Educators:

 

youth learners

 

 

adult and teen learners

The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. The million books recovered by the Yiddish Book Center represent Jews’ first sustained literary and cultural encounter with the modern world.

 

Since its founding in 1980 the Center has launched a wide range of bibliographic, educational, and cultural programs to share these treasures with the wider world.

"Translation and The Death of My Aunt"

bonus episode

In episode 3, we featured selections from the English translation of Blume Lempel's short story, "The Death of My Aunt," intercut with an exploration of the narrative's meanings and implications. In this bonus episode, you will hear both Ellen Cassedy's and Yermiyahu Ahron Taub's reflections on the experience of translating the story and the reading of "The Death of My Aunt" in its entirety.

Also From Our Artists

Reflections on My Aunt

To accompany the episode, we invite you to enjoy a piece of music composed and performed by theatre dybbuk artist Michael Skloff. You will hear what Michael created in response to the emotional landscape of the English translation of Blume Lempel's “The Death of My Aunt,” as read by Diana Tanaka.

 

episode 2: "The Book of Enoch"

Episode two, presented in collaboration with the Philosophical Research Society (PRS), explores The Book of Enoch, an ancient text composed during the Hellenistic period that contains tales of barbarous giants, visions of redemption, and much more.

 

Dr. Greg Salyer, President of PRS, takes us on a journey through the book’s structure, helping us investigate the spiritual and emotional value of apocalyptic literature as well as the recycling of mythological narratives.

THE TEAM

Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Greg Salyer, PhD

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Featuring the voices of Rachel Leah Cohen, Joe Jordan, Julie A. Lockhart, Clay SteakleyDiana Tanaka, Jonathan C.K. Williams, and Mark McClain Wilson

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S. 

"The Book of Enoch" Learning Resources

Learn more about:

 

Also referenced in the episode:

A Jewish Theatrical Work from the Hellenistic Era:

The Exagoge of Ezekiel the Tragedian

(Translation by Will Dilbeck,

commissioned by theatre dybbuk)

 

 

Exercises For Educators:

learners in grades 3-8

 

 

teen and young adult learners

 

 

adult and teen learners

Founded in 1934 by sage and scholar Manly P. Hall, the Philosophical Research Society (PRS) continues Mr. Hall’s mission to provide resources for seekers of practical and profound wisdom.

Also From Our Artists

Observe Ye

To accompany the episode, we invite you to enjoy a piece of video art by theatre dybbuk's resident lighting designer, Brandon Baruch. In the video, you can see the lighting scheme that Brandon designed to accompany the text of chapter 5 of The Book of Enoch as read by Joe Jordan. A portion of the chapter was featured in the episode; in this video you can experience it illuminated in full.

 

episode 1: "I-Tell-You"

This first episode, presented in collaboration with Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), features selections from a children's play found in I-Tell-You, a 1926 religious school journal from Congregation Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. The episode also includes essays from the publication written by both students and clergy.

 

Dr. Miriam Heller Stern, National Director, School of Education and Associate Professor of HUC-JIR, helps us unpack the journal’s meaning and what it has to say about education, assimilation, cultural expression of identity, and the complications of community.

THE TEAM

Hosted by Aaron Henne

Scholarship provided by Miriam Heller Stern, PhD

Edited by Mark McClain Wilson

Featuring the voices of Perry Daniel, Joe Jordan, Julie A. Lockhart, Clay SteakleyDiana Tanaka, Jonathan C.K. Williams, and Mark McClain Wilson

Theme music composed by Michael Skloff and produced by Sam K.S. 

"I-Tell-You" Learning Resources

Selections from the 1926 journal I-Tell-You:

 

The Little Hasmoneans

 

 

The Rabbi's Introduction

Student Writings

Exercises For Educators:

 

learners in grades K-2

 

 

learners in grades 3-8

 

 

teen and young adult learners

 

 

adult and teen learners

Hebrew Union College is North America’s premier institution of Jewish higher education and the center for professional leadership development of Reform Judaism. 

 

HUC-JIR’s School of Education is at the vanguard of progressive Jewish educator preparation, guided by rigorous research and field-shaping thought leadership. 

"I-Tell-You...More"

bonus episode

In episode 1, we featured portions of essays from the 1926 religious school journal I-Tell-You as well as the short play The Little Hasmoneans (also found in the journal) intercut with commentary by Dr. Miriam Heller Stern. We thought you might like to hear a continuous performance of the play and one of the student essays in full. Please enjoy the essay "How I Got My Name" by Henrietta B. Stein (grade 12)  and The Little Hasmoneans, a seven page play in three acts.

Also From Our Artists

Living Lights

Once you’ve listened to The Little Hasmoneans in “I-Tell-You,” we invite you to enjoy another theatrical interpretation of the Hanukkah story from theatre dybbuk artist Leslie K. Gray.  Leslie’s Living Lights – which she created, designed, and directed for her company Triumvirate Pi Theatre – is an all ages shadow puppet production set to music without dialogue. You can see clips of its 2011 presentation at the Skirball Cultural Center in the video below.

Thank you to the Covenant Foundation for its support of The Dybbukast and related educational resources. 

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
© theatre dybbuk
Detective George Zundt

Final costume concept rendering for Detective George Zundt