Page 62 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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I would take them both
and the dowries which you give with them,
and with my tricks
I will know how to keep them
. .
— from Romance de las Hijas del Chamarilero
(Romance o f the Gambler’s Girls)
Emigration o f Jews to the New World, whether to N o rth o r to
South America, has been closely related to conditions in Europe .
Hence, for Jews, we find ano ther wave o f em igration to places like
Venezuela, Mexico, and Dutch Guiana, in the late 1930s and the
years following.
Today, Venezuela has one o f the most active Jewish literary
communities in Latin America. A difficult but uncommonly in­
teresting writer, as stylist, is Ben Ami Fihman, while Elisa L erner
and Isaac Chocron are two o f Venezuela’s leading playwrights,
both members o f the influential el Nuevo Grupo. Isaac Chocron
has also written th ree novels and one, his epistolary novel,
In Case of Fire
, deals with the Venezuelan Jew as Sephardic Jew
who attempts to trace his roots in Madrid, Melilla and Tangiers.
Elisa Lerner has won several awards as a playwright and her
play, “In T he Vast Silence o f Manhattan ,” won the literary prize,
el Premio Ana Ju lia Rojas del Ateneo de Caracas in 1964. H er
family came to Venezuela from Rumania in 1930, and the play­
wright herse lf was born in Valencia in 1932. She has lived and
studied and worked in the United States and is familiar with
Broadway and O ff Broadway. H er work can be described as
surrealistic in structure , political in content, lyrical in expression,
and satirical in tone. H er play, “Vida Con Mama,” a satire on
contemporary Venezuelan politics, was recently produced in Los
Angeles. In addition to being a playwright, Elisa L erner is a bold
and ou tspoken essayist, whose subjects rang e from Bu s ter
Keaton, Laurel and Hardy to the Civil Rights movement in the
United States.
Similar in this range o f interests in subjects and personalities
from North America, is Alicia Segal, a professor o f litera tu re at la
Universidad Central de Venezuela and a well known jou rna lis t in
Venezuela, writing for the newspapers,
El National
and £7