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Cultural Crossover 

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Dear editor,

Jack Helbig's interview with Maynard Wishner [March 31] awakened fond memories from the late 40s. I lived a few blocks from the Yiddish theater and passed it on my way to Douglas Park. I could not read Yiddish and never understood the titles under the posters on display. I had a friend at Marshall High that landed a job there as elevator operator. He would sneak me in after the curtain went up and I would watch the performances from the back. The dialogue escaped my understanding, but I enjoyed seeing the action, colorful costumes, and outlandish makeup worn by the ladies. We were always treated kindly and were the only black faces in the place.

Several years later, while attending junior college at Wilson, my German-language teacher asked if anyone knew what Yiddish meant? My hand shot up and I said, "It's a Jewish language." I was stunned and disappointed when he said that my answer was incorrect. He told us that Yiddish was High German, and had nothing to do with Jews.

The old theater still stands at the corner of Ogden and Kedzie. Today it is being used as a church.


Hollis Chester



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