Original photos: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards; Peter Haskin

The Book of Schmutz

Ep. 183: Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof’s Jackie Hoffman and Motl Didner, and Australian punk rocker-turned-novelist Bram Presser

May 30, 2019
Original photos: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards; Peter Haskin

Tradition, tradition!

We sit down with legendary actress Jackie Hoffman, who plays Yenta in the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, and Motl Didner, the Folksbiene’s associate artistic director. Hoffman tells us about learning her lines in Yiddish and her favorite role of all time. Didner teaches us a few key phrases in Yiddish.

We also chat with Australian punk rocker-turned-novelist Bram Presser, who wrote The Book of Dirt, which won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction. He tells us about discovering the real story of his Holocaust survivor grandfather’s wartime years, which shapes the book, as well as his Yiddish punk background with the band Yidcore.

We’re heading to Chicago! We’ll be at the Logan Square Auditorium Wednesday, June 26, at 7 p.m. with special guest Blair Braverman, who recently became the second Jewish woman to complete the Iditarod. Presented with Hadassah Chicago-North Shore. Get your tickets here.

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This episode is sponsored by Unpacked, a new series of Jewish educational videos from Jerusalem U that offers a complete history of modern day Israel, 10 minutes at a time. Check it out at unpacked.media/unorthodox.

Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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