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The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene - Presents Bikel with Fyvush Finkel and Bel Kaufman, teacher and author —Up the Down Staircase— and granddaughter of Sholem Aleichem.[1]

Bikel's bio (also here and here among others) is stellar, internationalist, unionist, and progressive, an honored actor of theater, film and television, a playwright, singer, musician, composer, music producer, photographer, writer, lecturer, activist for human rights, civil rights, labor, and multi-cultural heritage. He co-founded the Newport Folk Festiva with Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand, and George Wein, and the first folk music coffeehouse in Los Angeles, The Unicorn with Herb Cohen, and later Cosmo Alley which also showcased cutting-edge artists (e.g., Maya Angelou, Lenny Bruce). Bikel is among the four profiles in the 2013

Journey 4 Artists, a documentary produced and directed by Michele Noble featuring Theodore Bikel, Tamara Brooks, Merima Kljućo and Shura Lipovsky which celebrates the power of music and religious diversity, premiered at Academy Award winning producer, Branko Lustig's 7th Annual Jewish Festival of Tolerance in Zagreb, Croatia.
In Bikel's service as president of Actors Equity, Associated Actors and Artistes of America, and on the National Council for the Arts he has advocated for human rights, labor, and international cultural embrace. With true, practical polymath renaissance-mind, he even co-founded the Actors Federal Credit Union, is a member of Mensa International, and has served since 2007 as chair of the Board of Directors of Meretz USA (now Partners for Progressive Israel), which
advocates a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, social justice, human rights (especially for ethnic and sexual minorities), religious freedom, and environmentalism.

Of his film roles, my own favorite, for the sheer joy, is the Russian submarine captain in the astounding ensemble comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). From the "Golden Age" of television onward, Bikel was a guest performer on innumerable programs, [as well as in radio]; and as science fiction/fantasy enthusiast, I saw him in

Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the [1990] episode "Family" playing Sergey Rozhenko, the Russian-born adoptive father of Klingon character Worf [and] in the Babylon 5 Rabbi Koslov in the first season episode "TKO" and in 1998, as Ranger leader Lenonn in the TV movie Babylon 5: In the Beginning
even though I didn't much like especially the latter 'universe'.

I grew up with Bikel's international folk records (yes, vinyl, and I still have some) and awareness of his activism, a shaper of Jewish progressivism in America and the world.

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Sholem Aleichem's narratives were notable for the naturalness of his characters' speech and the accuracy of his descriptions of shtetl life. Early critics focused on the cheerfulness of the characters, interpreted as a way of coping with adversity. Later critics saw a tragic side in his writing.[7] He was often referred to as the "Jewish Mark Twain" because of the two authors' similar writing styles and use of pen names. Both authors wrote for both adults and children, and lectured extensively in Europe and the United States. When Twain heard the writer called "the Jewish Mark Twain", he replied "please tell him that I am the American Sholem Aleichem."

Originally posted to mettle fatigue on Tue Apr 08, 2014 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Elders of Zion.

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