The Arty Semite

Theaters Paved With Gold

By Curt Schleier

When my parents landed in New York in 1947 they were assigned a case worker. I’m not sure who did the assigning, but I remember my father saying how puzzled he was. “Case” was German for cheese, and he didn’t understand why he needed a cheese worker.

Michael Priest Photography

My parents didn’t tell many stories about their early lives, about crossing the border from Austria into Switzerland after the Anschluss or how they got to the goldene medina. Perhaps I didn’t ask the right questions.

But that particular anecdote stayed with me, because it was about their life at the precipice. They were starting a new life in a new land with a new language, one briefly filled with optimism and faith that life could and would be better.

Perhaps that is why I am such a fan of the new National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene production of “The Golden Land,” a joyous celebration of the turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrant experience.

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