Till Torsdag, 22. April 2021
by Chava Rosenfarb
The Bird of the Ghetto chronicles the attempted Vilna Ghetto uprising and the tragic story of Jewish resistance leader Itsik Vitenberg, commander of the United Partisan Organization (FPO). The presentation coincides with the 78th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19, 1943.
In July 1943, the Nazi occupiers of the Vilna Ghetto demanded that leader Itsik Vitenberg be turned over. Yakov Gens, the head of the Vilna Jewish Council (Judenrat), turned Vitenberg over to the Gestapo, but he was rescued by his fellow partisans. The Gestapo again demanded that Vitenberg be turned over, threatening the complete liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto and its remaining 20,000 inhabitants.
The FPO wanted the crisis to serve as the spark to ignite an uprising, but without the popular support of the community, Vitenberg was forced to sacrifice himself, and he surrendered to the Nazis. He died within days in Gestapo custody. The Vilna Ghetto was liquidated three months later.
Rachel Botchan; Rebecca Brudner; Spencer Chandler; Motl Didner; Kirk Geritano; Avi Hoffman; Maya Jacobson; Daniel Kahn; Lea Kalisch; Rebecca Keren; Avram Mlotek; Lauren Schaffel; Dylan Seders Hoffman; Tatiana Wechsler; Hy Wolfe; and, Mikhl Yashinsky
The Bird of the Ghetto is the only play by Chava Rosenfarb, who is considered one of the greatest post-war Yiddish writers. While performed in Rosenbarb’s lifetime in English and in Hebrew, this is the first time this play will ever have been performed in the language in which it was written, Yiddish.
Born in Lodz, Rosenfarb began writing at age eight. In the Lodz ghetto, her poetry brought her to the attention of Simkha-Bunim Shayevitsh, author of the epic poem “Lekh Lekho,” who became her mentor and introduced her to the writers’ group in the ghetto. Upon liquidation of the ghetto (August 1944), Rosenfarb was deported to Auschwitz, and then to Sasel and finally Bergen-Belsen, where she was liberated. In 1950, she immigrated to Montreal. Her literary output after 1947 was prodigious, including the epic, three-volume The Tree of Life: A Trilogy of Life in the Lodz Ghetto.