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Great Artists: David Pinski, Yiddish Playwright

Grine Felder

Griner Felder Colony
Woodridge, New York
Summer 1942

From the article "A Place in the Country" by Martin Boris:

In 1937, the great author-critic Alexander Mukdoiny wrote, "The Yiddish Theatre is finished. It is no longer even bad theatre. It has no actor, no repertoire, no directors and no designers. Professionalism, talent and ambition are practically dead."

Zygmunt Salkin's attempt at a solution that summer of 1938 was to gather a group of stage-struck youngsters and present them with his own English translation of the I.L. Peretz play, to be produced under Singer's guidance. The practical part of his agenda was the free use by the troupe of a gathering hall in the bungalow colony known as Grine Felder (Green Fields). But this was no ordinary Catskill resort for the families of middle-class Jewish shopkeepers and businessmen who would come for a respite from Manhattan's swelter. When Salkin and Singer arrived, Grine Felder had been for two years summer home to the most concentrated assemblage of Yiddishist elite anywhere on Earth. While other groups-artists, leftists, Bohemians-organized their own colonies, none equaled the caliber of talent at Grine Felder...

Among the notables who pioneered Grine Felder were David Pinski, a major Yiddish playwright whose work a decade earlier had dominated both Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre and Ben-Ami's Jewish Art Theatre; Mendl Elkin, one of the founders of the Bronx's Unzer Theatre and a writer, director, teacher, and lecturer also involved with Pinski and Hirshbein in various ripples of Jewish and cultural life in New York City; Nahum Stutchkoff, author and playwright, whose radio series Tzores bei Leiten ("Trouble Increases") ran for 20 years on WEVD in New York City, "the station that speaks your language."

Samuel Charney, who wrote under the name "S. Niger," was also an original at the colony. Editor, journalist and historian, founder of the Zionist Socialist Party and president of the Shalom Aleichem Folk Institute, Charney was considered the dean of Yiddish literary criticism...

Hear Gabriel Pinski talk about the time he spent as a child at Grine Felder with his grandfather David. Listen to it.


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