Page 120 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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in material collected and preserved by Solomon Zanvil
Rapoport (1863-1920) who achieved fame as S. Ansky with the
the motif of martyrdom replaces the
motif of exorcism. A young man, “handsome, tall and sturdy as an
oak,” had been buried alive in the eighteenth century. This
meager adumbration of a grim plot inspired Sackler with a right
theme for his dramatic deftness.
The play was produced in New York by the Jewish Art Theater
under the direction of Maurice Schwartz in 1923 and filmed in
Vienna in 1924. For more than three decades, but mainly between
the first and second world war, that playhouse was a bastion of
fostered the theater’s and the author’s popular­
ity. For
— the term for liturgical memorialization of the
dead — appealed to Jewish audiences with the thematic choice of
martyrdom and its linkage with redemption.
Riding on the crest of his popularity Sackler published between
1925 and 1928 four volumes of plays in Yiddish. They included,
Yosi o f Yokeret, Yizkor
TheJourney o f theZaddik,
five other
The Way to God, Ashemdai, M a jor Noah, Rahab o fJericho, The
Seer Looks at H is Bride.
Later, he added to his corpus of Yiddish
plays a few plays in Hebrew:
Lights Out o f Darkness, Incense In
Sa tan ’s Nose, Eastward .
More than any contemporary Sackler
achieved dramatization of legendary and historical figures in
story, novel and play. Abraham, the patriarch and Abraham
Abulafia, the mystic, King Solomon and Honi the Circle-Drawer,
Simeon ben Yohai and Joseph della Reina, The Seer of Lublin,
Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav and Major Noah — all these person­
ages owe him artistic resuscitation. Some of them — Abraham the
pa triarch and Rahab the ha rlo t — have been effectually
dramatized by other contemporaries. Mattathias Shoham created
a Rahab with superseductive qualities and — with more didacti­
cism than dramatism — an Abraham who abandons loyalty to the
land of his birth for loyalty to a new land. B u t
'mM a jor Noah ,
in Hebrew
Mashiah Nosah America,
(Messiah American Version)
and serialized in the farmer’s weekly
V, 1-7 (April 19 -
June 1,1933), Sackler turned a historical character of great charm
and a bit of charlatanism, of practical acumen and visionary
strength, into a serious precursor of pseudo-Zionist aspirations.
As a matter of fact he was reprimanded for choosing Noah
instead of Herzl as protagonist of his play. It was a misplaced
reprimand. In his search for an American equivalent to the Holy