Two of the most significant figures in Jewish culture are brought together in one magnificent new documentary film … Theodore Bikel: In The Shoes of Sholom Aleichem!
The spirit of the great Russian-Jewish writer is embodied and brought to life by Theodore Bikel who is probably more connected to the late writer’s life than any other man alive.
The 90-year-old, Austrian-born, American hero of the arts has played Fiddler on the Roof’s, Tevye The Milkman, more than 2000 times and has animated an array of Aleichem’s work through his creation of two celebrated plays about the great Russian author.
The one-hour film focuses on both the playwright and the actor most associated with his work. Through a mix of acting, storytelling, music and biography, it takes the viewer on a journey created by one Jewish cultural treasure through the words and performance of the other.
Aleichem’s work is an enduring testimony to a vanished period in Jewish history when Russian Jews were the victim of pogroms and poverty, but rose above their dire situation with joyful music, song and storytelling. And no one is better qualified to bring that period back to life than Bikel.
“I feel myself to be the link in a chain that stretches back to the past and will stretch forward into the future,” the venerated actor and musician says. “I sing about what was sung yesterday. And I sing today so that, pray God, it shouldn’t get lost. And that possibly, if not my children, then, at least, somebody’s children will sing it tomorrow.”
Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, German and English, Bikel has become a towering icon of culture wherever he has been. He was one of the co-founders of the Israeli Chamber Theatre, graduated from the London Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was nominated for an Academy Award for his stirring performance as an American Southern Sherriff in 1958’s The Defiant Ones.
New York Developer and patron of the arts Elie Hirschfeld is intrinsically committed to the preservation of his own Jewish heritage and a public appreciation of the wealth of historical culture this film brings.
“It is critical to know and appreciate the story of both these men,” says Hirschfeld. “Many people know of Fiddler on the Roof, but there is so much more that each have to offer. Each have been instrumental in preserving the history, songs and spirit of the Jewish people of Europe before the Holocaust.”
Hirschfeld is a backer of the film which is currently touring the United States. It is directed by John Lollos and narrated by Alan Alda.
For dates and locations of screenings, please go to: http://www.jewishfilm.org/Catalogue/films/theodorebikel.htm