Yiddish Theater

Thu 10 2017 , by

Bygone Buttered Rolls?

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the common coffee-accompanying buttered roll has become bygone from NYC and the surrounding areas of NJ and Connecticut in any measurable way. However, in many cases they aren’t what they used to be, and finding them made properly (with a fresh, handmade Kaiser roll and real salted butter) is becoming a lot more iffy. While buttered rolls can still be bought as such in many small shops, diners, and sidewalk coffee carts throughout the city, the general consensus is that since bygone days (mid-20th century) in the majority of cases the quality of the rolls has gone down due to modern developments such as the disappearance of smaller, regional/local bakeries, leading to the mass production and the lack of freshness and quality of the hard rolls, and lack of knowledge of how they are “supposed” to be has led to rolls without the requisite crispy crust or poppy seeds on top. Then there is the butter, or lack thereof: the more frequent use of margarine of varying taste and mouthfeel by those who sell them, topped off by vendors wrapping them in plastic wrap in deference to modern sanitary sensibilities but giving the rolls the savor of the plastic. The comments section from this NY Times article about the phenomena of buttered Kaiser rolls or “butter rolls” as they are called in popular parlance is revealing: besides having arrived in NYC via “The Vienna Model Bakery” in 1870, which also brought commercial yeasted bread to the city, they derived from German/Austrian Jewish cuisine: one commentator reveals that her father called them “jew rolls” when at home, but not to appear anti-Semitic, ordered “hard rolls” from the local bakery. (In many cases, a local bakery was involved in the production of good old fashioned rolls with butter as they ought to have been-it is the scarcity of general purpose local bakeries that has been partly responsible for the taste and quality of buttered rolls becoming more frequently bygone.) How are the bastardized versions that have become widely available in our time still selling? For the same reason the original and better-tasting ones did: they might be the only thing some people can afford to eat all day. They are cheap and filling, though of dubious nutritional value. —

Ode to the Buttered Roll, That New York Lifeline

It can be hard to explain the appeal of a buttered roll.

Unlike the breakfast sandwich or the cruller, the humble buttered roll makes no claims to lusciousness. It’s not really greater than the sum of its parts: a round roll, sliced and slathered with butter. There is no alchemy involved.

And yet, like many New Yorkers, I’ve breakfasted all my life on buttered rolls, wrapped in plastic, foil or wax paper and sold for about a dollar at any corner deli, bodega or coffee cart.

Do I love them? No. That is not really the point. I love that they exist, an unsung, charmingly ordinary hero of the city’s mornings.…

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from Bowery Boogie: “Windows on the Bowery”:

Posted on: July 5th, 2016 at 5:14 am by


It’s high time the Bowery receives its due and proper. Grassroots preservationists at the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors implore you to stop, observe, and appreciate the former Native American footpath and onetime boulevard of broken dreams. “Windows on the Bowery,” their new visual walking exhibit, premieres today.

The ambitious undertaking essentially serves as a portal to the rich cultural significance of the Bowery. It’s a creative effort some three years in the making that “highlights remarkable people, events, buildings, and achievements associated with particular addresses” along the Bowery. The ultimate goal is awareness that might help ebb the tide of destruction we’ve seen here in recent years. You see, the thoroughfare is not landmarked, even though it’s recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

As previously reported, poster-sized placards rife with location-based information will reside in their respective Bowery windows, from Chatham to Cooper Square. Each one being a window into the past. (Get it?) In total, there are sixty-four panels (18×24 inches) containing histories penned by eighteen notable historians and researchers (Eric Ferrara, Joyce Mendelsohn, Dan Barry, Kerri Culhane, et al). Hundreds of historical images are also included.

But there’s more. In addition to the display at the Bowery locations, a full exhibition of all the posters is planned for the western windows of the Cooper Union building, as well as inside the landmark HSBC bank branch at 58 Bowery.

We’re told that the project should remain in place for several months, at least.



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From God of Vengeance to Indecent
Tuesday, Apr. 19 at 7:00 pm

On February 19, 1923, theatergoers witnessed Broadway’s first lesbian kiss at the English-language premiere of God of Vengeance, a play by Yiddish writer Sholem Asch. Days later, the NYPD arrested the entire cast on obscenity charges. Asch’s provocative drama and the legal controversy surrounding it has inspired theater artists ever since – including author Paula Vogel, whose new play, Indecent, captures the drama surrounding the 1923 production. We’ll discuss the radical possibilities of Yiddish theater during this panel.  #YiddishTheater

Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Indecent
Rebecca Taichman, Director, Indecent
Marvin Carlson, Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies, CUNY Graduate Center
Joel Berkowitz (moderator), Professor of Foreign Languages & Literature, University of Wisconsin

$20 & up for non-members
$15 for City Museum Members…

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Voices from the Yiddish Stage
Thursday, Apr. 7 at 6:30 pm

Join us for a talk with Christa Whitney, director of the Wexler Oral History Project, as she shares video highlights from the Yiddish Book Center’s project featuring actors, musicians, and fans of Yiddish theater reflecting on its traditions and discussing its future. Enjoy cameos by Leonard Nimoy and Fyvush Finkl, as well as interviews with “bubbes” and “zaydes” (Jewish grandmas and grandpas). This program delves into the themes of New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway.  #YiddishTheater

$12 & up for non-members
FREE for City Museum Members…

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TheaterMania sent me the following among others in an e-mail called “Save Big On Off-Broadway’s Best”:

The Golden Bride

Opens December 2

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Presented for the first time in over 70 years, don’t miss this rediscovered and restored 1920s hit musical comedy, with a cast of 20 and a 14-piece orchestra! In Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles.

Discount Price: $30

Regular Price: $40

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