web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Defying Adversity While ‘Waiting for Godot’

Kupfer-101113

While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school.  What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)

Just seconds into the play, I felt an endorphin like exhilaration wash over me – unusual since the play itself is dark and depressing as it revolves around two hapless, confused “lost souls” stuck in a bleak, desolate environment waiting for an elusive being they call Godot.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I realized the source of my joy was an existential one: The fact that Yiddish still exists as a spoken and written language – despite the frenzied attempts of numerous nations throughout the centuries to annihilate and erase the Jewish people – is “gevaldig” (beyond amazing).  Every Yiddish book, newspaper or utterance proclaims that Am Yisroel chai – the Jewish people are still here.

Unlike the Romans; to my knowledge, there are no Waiting for Godot productions being presented in Latin, a language that once upon a time was universal, spoken everywhere due to the long reach of the Roman Empire.

The reality of this play being performed in Yiddish speaks volumes of the defiance and determination of the Jewish people to exist, to strive and thrive – despite the seemingly insurmountable odds against us doing so. It is a life-enhancing message that the beaten down characters of the play fail to realize – but we the audience should take to heart.

The characters in this Yiddish version of Waiting for Godot are subtly portrayed as Holocaust survivors.  Its Nobel Laureate playwright, Samuel Beckett, was in the French Resistance and wrote the play in post-World War II Europe, a continent saturated with displaced, shattered and hopeless refugees.

Who Godot is, is never explained.  For some he is God, or a savior, or a rescuer. As in the case with most works of art, what you see is a personal interpretation.  The two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, are waiting for Godot – day after day, year after year, decade after decade. They are trapped by their own inertia, by their inability to take the initiative, to be the masters of their own fate. Instead they do nothing but nurse their daily disappointment when told by a boy that Godot is not showing up – yet again.

And so they wait… They have no idea who Godot is or what he is going to do that will change their reality, they just accept that they must wait for him.  For them, it’s like the proverbial “check in the mail.” Every day there is anticipation that a check will come, that it’s on its way – but it never does.

There are two other characters that are introduced later in the play who for me are the equivalent of those warning graphics found on some cigarette boxes, “this is what happens if you smoke,” except the warning on the human “package,” is a man called Lucky saying, “ This is what happens when you give up.”

Lucky is seemingly a slave who is hitched to a rope and wagon that he pulls like a mule.  His “master” Pozzo is an abusive bully.  Lucky silently does as he is told, not questioning the demeaning orders barked to him by Pozzo.  He is so complacent and unable to think for himself that he will not put down heavy items when there is no need for him to hold them. While the other two are “sad sacks,” Lucky is a geshlugana hint – a beaten down, broken, dog with its tail between its legs.

It soon becomes obvious that Pozzo is needy and weak – it would be easy for Lucky to walk away.  Initially we assume that Lucky is a simpleton; that he cannot do better than being a beast of burden.  That is until he starts to talk, and it turns out he is quite the intellectual. But after a while, his words make no sense. He is a man of useless words – all talk and no action.   He could easily overcome the cowardly Pozzo.  Instead he allows himself to be stifled by the toxic, crippling negativity and evil that Pozzo embodies and allows it to smother any shred of hope or motivation to challenge and change his reality.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Defying Adversity While ‘Waiting for Godot’”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.
Four Notes on The Situation
Latest Sections Stories
Singer-072514

On his marriage, he wrote: “This is what I believe: something of the core, of the essence of this meaningful and life-affirming Judaism will not be absent from our home” (1882).

With the recent kidnapping by the Hamas and the barbaric murder of three children – Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, we believe that the best answer to honor the memory of those murdered is to continue building those very communities – large and small – that our enemies are trying to destroy.

book-Family-Frayda

Written entirely through Frayda’s eyes, the reader is drawn by her unassuming personality.

Adopting an ancient exegetical approach that is based on midrashic readings of the text, thematic connections that span between various books of the Bible are revealed.

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people”

The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines a mentch as “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.”

Certainly today’s communication via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and the like, including the ubiquitous Whatsapp, has reduced the need to talk with people and communicate at length.

These two special women utilized their incredibly painful experience as an opportunity to assist others.

Maybe we don’t have to lose that growth and unity that we have achieved, especially with the situation in Eretz Yisrael right now.

Sleepily, I watched him kissing Mai’s chubby thighs.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

My teachers like me and they tell my parents that I am a great girl with good middos.

The chicken and waffle nuggets were fabulous and were like chicken in a dessert form.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-032814

A young lady in her early 20’s, “Sarah” was redt to “Shlomie” a boy from her home town who learned in an out-of-town yeshiva. The families know each other well, which in today’s shidduch scene is a big plus – since it was therefore unlikely the kids would “fall in” due to misinformation and misinterpretations.

Kupfer-031414

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I have to do what is right for me – as long as it’s “ halachically kosher” and doesn’t negatively impact on others – and not worry too much about what others think.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.

Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.

One can argue that forgetting something on a regular basis is a sign of advancing age and it’s time to for a neurological evaluation, but based on the number of young people who need to replace a lost smart phone (too bad it’s not smart enough to warn its owner that that they have become separated – or is there an app for that too?), I safely can say that losing “stuff” cuts across the generations.

For quite a few days in late December, Toronto was transformed into a breathtaking – literally and figuratively – frigid winter wonderland, where every twig, leaf, car door, and outdoor wire and cable was totally encased in ice. When the sun shone the landscape was blindingly brilliant as if billions of diamonds had been glued to everything the eye could see.

Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.

The necessity of speaking up when you “have a hunch” applies even more when it comes to shidduchim. One little girl did just that – she said something – and I was fortunate enough to be in town for the very joyful, lively wedding that resulted from her speaking up.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/defying-adversity-while-waiting-for-godot/2013/10/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: