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Walk of Fame for Jewish actors: on Jewish theaters in Manhattan and the tragic fate of the restaurateur Abe Lebevol

I came across this Walk of Fame by accident. I dropped in on business at Chase Bank on Second Avenue and suddenly, on the way out, right under my feet I found two rows of tiles with the image of red five-pointed stars and signatures on them. The bank explained that they were erected in honor of famous actors who played in the East Village Jewish theaters. And the famous restaurateur Abe Lebevol, who was brutally murdered by bandits in 1996, did it. How the kosher Second Avenue Deli is interconnected with theatrical Manhattan and the widespread recognition of Lebevol as "Mayor of Second Avenue" deserves a special story. I hope this story will interest you too.

Photo: Facebook / 2nd Ave Deli

The famous American restaurateur Drew Niporent, the owner of the Nobu and Montrachet chain, once invited the famous French chef Paul Bocuse to visit him. In order not to substitute himself, he decided to ask all the eminent chefs in New York to come to a meeting with him with their specialties. Well, how could you surprise Paul, who by that time was called the "chef of the century" in his homeland?

But Abe Lebevol managed to do it. From the chopped liver, he sculpted a huge bust of Bocuse, decorated it with a ribbon around his neck, made of stripes of red pepper and lemon slices, imitating the Medal of the Legion of Honor. With which, by the way, Bocuse never parted. This suggests that Abe was not only an excellent cook, but also a subtle psychologist, able to grasp and predict the desires of his client. But where does all this come from? After all, nothing foreshadowed such a career for him.

He was born in 1931 in the town of Kulikov in the Lviv region, which then belonged to Poland, in the family of a timber merchant. When in 1939 these places were occupied by the Soviets, his father, as a "bourgeois element", was exiled to Siberia, and he and his mother were exiled to Kazakhstan. After the war, the family was reunited, and, not finding any of their relatives, they moved back to Poland. However, she did not stay long there, capturing the wave of post-war Polish anti-Semitism. Through Austria they crossed over to Italy. There, in a refugee camp, they lived for several years, initially hoping to get to Palestine by ship. But his mother, Ethel Lebevol, who gave birth to his younger brother Jack in 1948, insisted on moving to the United States.

Thus, in 1950, they ended up in New York. Abe (in his former life Abraham) is already 19 years old. The Jewish Immigrant Aid Society found a small home for the family on Rue Lafayette, in the immigrant-populated Lower East Side. Here, quickly mastering English, he tries to find his place in a new life. It is known that he started out as an auxiliary worker in one of Coney Island's grocery stores. Then he changed many restaurants, trying all the professions there: from dishwasher and waiter, barker and doorman to kitchen assistant and cook.

In 1954 he decided to open his own restaurant. The initial capacity is 12 people. The address is known: the corner of Second Avenue and Tenth Street. Soon it will increase it to 130 seats, and in 25 years the restaurant will already be able to receive 250 guests. It's hard to believe, but before coming to America, he had no experience in cooking kosher food. In just four years, changing owners and cuisines, communicating with chefs and connoisseurs of Jewish cuisine, he gains sufficient experience. This magic of Jewish cuisine seemed to fascinate him. Knowing that each lawn has a different green color, he tries to find his face and specialties among the variety of kosher restaurants in Manhattan. That it was not just ordinary food, but “delicacies”. Eibe is confident that he will be able to achieve this and calls his store "Second Avenue Delicacies" or "Delhi" for short. From the Latin delicatus, which means "to bring joy." Since then, the restaurant menu has included such dishes as soup with kneidlach (matzo balls), cholent (a hot dish of meat, vegetables, cereals and beans), corned beef, stuffed fish, kreplach (dumplings), potato latkes (pancakes), kugel (casserole), p'tch (jellied meat), signature p'tchu (cold veal feet), huge sandwiches with beef and pastrami (brisket), the world's best chopped liver and other Jewish dishes. At the same time, in order to attract the public to the restaurant, Lebevol establishes a completely unusual form of work for kosher restaurants: “7 times a week, 24 hours a day”. It was very convenient for actors, journalists and printers, postal workers and railway workers, firefighters and police officers returning from work late at night or at night. Not to mention the numerous guests of the city.

Screenshot from Google Maps

His regular client Sol Chapnik recalled how one night, having sent his wife to the hospital, the whole family could not sit at home in anxiety and went to Delhi. They settled into a separate room, decorated with memorabilia of the famous Jewish theater and film actress, Molly Picon. Her cheerful smiles from the photographs, quiet music and helpful waiter created a pleasant atmosphere of peace and home comfort. Could you find a better place somewhere to have Mazzal and good luck on your side? It is easy to imagine how happy and merry they were soon when they learned about the birth of their son.

Saul also owns another curious story about "Delhi" and the customs in it.

To keep the tone, I will quote the text verbatim: “One evening I had dinner on Second Avenue and ordered my favorite dish, a Romanian steak. That evening the portion was not as big as the usual huge meals. Indeed, I didn’t mind much as I could never finish a whole dish of whatever food I ordered. But when I paid for it, I still told my regular waiter that I was not complaining (and I despise complainers), but was surprised that the portion was not as large as always. Five minutes later, the waiter brought a plate of corned beef with a kind and sincere message: “Eibe said that from here no one should go hungry. " I knew their intentions were sincere, but I was very embarrassed. But I understood that the man who himself had experienced hunger in his youth was worried about the small hunger of his client. " These stories first of all indicate that Lebevol managed to create an absolutely trusting and homely atmosphere in his restaurant. For example, when ordering, his waitress could tell her regular customer: “Yesterday I served you beef, maybe today we will cook you fish? And I'll think about what we can offer you tomorrow. " And he unquestioningly agreed. They all felt like a big family. It is known that when someone had serious problems at home, Abe always did not hesitate to help. If necessary, and money, moreover never mentioning a refund.

Gradually, his restaurant became more and more successful. Suddenly, however, overly devout rabbis appeared, intent on revoking his kosher license. For the fact that his restaurant was open on Saturday. But Abe Lebevol won the lawsuit, proving that kosher only applies to food, and not at all to the place or time of sale. For community members, this message had the opposite effect: if the kosher of the food is confirmed by the court, then what was the problem? After all, it was possible to pay for a Saturday meal on a weekday. Moreover, Lebevol's reputation was impeccable. He was known as a man of amazing efficiency and exceptional decency. The restaurant was his life. Abe could be found there at any time. He could do any work in it himself: bring food in the machine, wash and sort the dishes, work at the checkout, or take any place in the kitchen. Not to mention customer service. He was on friendly terms with most of them.

Abe was always in a good mood, smiling and welcoming. I could sit down at the table, pat on the shoulder, find out how the last skirmish with the authorities ended, whether the plaster cast was removed from my daughter's leg after a fracture, and whether my son was going to go to college this year. He tried to keep abreast of all the important events taking place in Manhattan. He was well aware of the activities planned in the East Village, but he knew all about Second Avenue. And he tried, where possible, not only to take part, but also to provide all possible assistance. That is why for many years he was respectfully called "the mayor of Second Avenue" here. But the old actors of the Jewish theaters enjoyed his special love. He could spend hours listening to stories about their wanderings and the ways of the formation of the Jewish theater. It was an unknown world that suddenly appeared here on Second Avenue.

About Jewish theater and kosher restaurant

Of course, its most famous representative was Abram Goldfaden. He was its founder, playwright and performer. That is why, carefully studying the biography of Abram, we can accurately trace the history of the development of the Jewish theater. In 1862, students of the Zhytomyr rabbinical school made an attempt to reproduce on stage one of Mendele Moikher-Sforim's educational works "Serkele", where the young Abram Goldfaden was assigned the role of Serkele. The success of the production makes him think about the correctness of the chosen path. Already working as a teacher, he devotes all his time to literary activity, and even tries to publish a newspaper in Lvov. In Iasi (Romania), he meets with "Brodeur singers" (from the town of Brody), who sang Jewish songs (including his) as stage miniatures. And Goldfaden conceived with their participation to create a performance, interspersing songs with entertaining dialogues. In 1876, during the holiday of Sukkot, they showed a two-act comedy specially composed for this show. And soon another comedy, written by him based on two of his early songs.

The demonstration of these performances, enthusiastically received by the audience, is considered the birth of professional theater in Yiddish. From that moment on, his many years of theatrical tour of Europe began. It was the itinerant theater of the "wandering stars", which soon became the model for many new troupes throughout Eastern Europe. Usually their leader was, like Goldfaden, the director, stage designer and author of the entire repertoire. But, most often, they used previously written works by Goldfaden or other authors. Finally, he stops in Budapest, where women are already being introduced to his troupe, and then moves to Odessa. His theater already includes 40 actors and a choir, which was directed in Odessa by Khazzan Hirschenfeld (I. Dunaevsky's grandfather). It is generally accepted that Goldfaden determined the nature of the development of the national theater for a long time. An adherent of the Haskalah - Jewish enlightenment, he wrote plays for everyone, considering them an excellent means of education. He unambiguously divided the characters into positive and negative, diluted the action with simple jokes and ended everything with a moralizing ending.

Many actors of the troupe of A. Goldfaden himself, dissatisfied with their material dependence on him, strove for independence and at the first opportunity organized their own theatrical collectives. By the early 1880s, there were already several independent troupes, some of which were founded by his former actors. All of them successfully toured the cities of the south of Russia and Ukraine. But in September 1883, a special government decree banned performances in Yiddish in the Russian Empire. This was the result of a tightening of state policy towards Jews. In fact, this meant a ban on Jewish theater in general, and a significant part of the actors had to look for work outside of Russia. At that time, Goldfaden toured in Moscow, but immediately left for Warsaw, where for some time he performed with the troupe under the guise of a German theater. And then, like many European actors, directors and playwrights, he went through London to the United States. This is how most of the elite of the Jewish European theater appeared in New York.

We can say that they were "at the right time, in the right place." Economic difficulties, increased state anti-Semitism and the threat of pogroms in the late XIX and early XX centuries. led to a huge wave of emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe. By 1910, New York City had over one million Ashkenazi Jews, accounting for up to 25 percent of its population, making it the world's largest Jewish city.

The photo in the post depicts Frank Sinatra (right) and his agent. They pose with posters of Yiddish stars Menash Skulnik and Miriam Kressin outside the Second Avenue Theater, 1943.

Now let's digress for a moment. Who are the Ashkenazi? This is the ancient name for the Jewish population living in medieval Germanic lands, once inhabited by the descendants of Noah's great-grandson, named Ashkenaz. They spoke Yiddish, a Middle High German dialect enriched with borrowings from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Slavic languages. For a very long time, Yiddish was considered a second-class language, suitable only for housewives. Educated people clearly distinguished Hebrew - the language of the Torah, in which one had to communicate with God, and Yiddish - convenient for everyday life and understood by all Ashkenazi.

So, a million Jews who came to New York spoke Yiddish. Those. preserving the ancient tradition, they communicated with each other in Yiddish, and prayed in Hebrew. Therefore, the actors who undertook to create a theater here played and sang in Yiddish. This is how the theater district gradually emerged in New York, jokingly called "Jewish Rialto" or "Yiddish Rialto", which became the center of the theatrical life of the city. It was located primarily on Second Avenue, although it extended to Avenue B, between Houston Street and East 14th in the East Village. Since theatrical performances in this area were in great demand (in addition to the Jewish community, there was also a German one who understood Yiddish well), you could find performances for every taste here: from Shakespeare's, classical and original plays to comedies, operettas and dramas. Vaudeville, burlesque and music shows were especially loved. The first Yiddish performance in the United States is believed to have been shown in 1882 at the New York Turn Verein, located at 66 East 4th Street in Little Germany (now part of the East Village).

At that time, most of the early Yiddish theaters were located on the Lower East Side, but soon a number of theater producers decided to move north to the Second Avenue area. Faynman and Kessler, who came to the USA from Chisinau in the mid-1890s, created their own troupe Thalia Theater. In 1903, Adler built the first Yiddish theater in New York - the Grand Theater. But Second Avenue's finest hour came in the 1910s, thanks to the opening of two theaters: the Second Avenue Theater in 1911 at 35-37 Second Avenue, and the National Theater in 1912 at 111-117 East Houston Street. Finkel invited Tomashevsky there, who immediately went up the hill: he had an extraordinary instinct and quickly realized that the theater would be in great demand in the growing immigrant community, so he developed a stormy activity, subscribing actors, singers, playwrights and composers from Europe for the National Theater. By the way, the house where the composer and pianist George Gershwin and his lyricist brother Ira Gershwin spent their childhood was also in the center of the Theater District on the second floor of 91st Avenue, between East 5th and 6th Streets. Of course, they spent their childhood in the halls of Yiddish theaters. Composer and lyricist Irving Berlin also grew up here in a house where everyone spoke only Yiddish, as did the actor John Garfield.

In the beginning, Serious Yiddish drama prevailed on Second Avenue: original plays, mostly by Goldfaden, and translated ones - Russian, German and English. But it soon became obvious that the community was not very interested in biblical, historical and didactic subjects, but the home-grown folk motives of the Old World and the immigrant situations of the New Light are going with a bang. Tomashevsky understood the preferences of his audience and began to give them what they wanted. The musical comedy finally won out. Nevertheless, 1908 thousand people came to Goldfaden's funeral in 75. In this regard, The New York Times wrote: “The dense Jewish population in the lower eastern part of Manhattan shows high appreciation for their humble Yiddish poetry and drama. The same spirit dawned on the rude audiences of the Elizabeth Shakespearean theater. There, as in 22th century London, there is a real intellectual renaissance. " When the United States entered World War I, there were 25 Yiddish drama theaters and two operetta theaters in New York alone, which presented their viewers with 30-XNUMX performances daily.

To preserve the memory of many actors, singers, playwrights and directors of this amazing time, restaurateur Abe Lebevol installed 32 tiles with the names of up to 55 of the most famous of them at the door of his restaurant on Second Avenue, in the very center of the former theater district. Thus, he created a kind Alley of memory of Jewish actors, like Hollywood.

Part of the Walk of Fame is visible on the sidewalk

Among them is the legendary Abraham Goldfaden - "the father of the Jewish theater". Poet, playwright, composer, theater organizer and director, author of 40 plays in Yiddish and the first production of a play in Hebrew in New York. The already mentioned Molly is a brilliant actress, a star of Yiddish theater and cinema, as well as numerous English-language films and TV shows.

Boris Tomashevsky is a versatile actor who has successfully performed dramatic roles and solo roles in performances of world classics and Jewish authors. Film director, playwright, and Jewish theater historian. Author of 50 works for theater and famous biographical books.

The Berry Sisters are a brilliant, world famous jazz duo performing songs in Yiddish, Russian and English. Many of them have entered the treasury of world song culture forever.

Fivush Finkel is one of the legendary Yiddish theater actors. For several years he played Tevye the Milkman in the Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. Has starred in dozens of films and television shows, including Memoirs of Brighton Beach and Picket Fences, award-winningEmmys"and Obie... And so on. All information about the actors featured on the Walk of Fame can be found at link or here.

By the 1950s, however, Jewish theater was in decline. The main reason was that a new generation had grown up, which was already fluent in English, and most often left the "father's house". Yiddish became more and more unclaimed, and on English-speaking Broadway, the repertoire is becoming more and more interesting. Not to mention that the best actors in Yiddish theaters have also moved to Broadway. Gradually, Yiddish theaters are beginning to close, as the chances of an increase in the number of spectators due to the "new wave" were slim. On the one hand, the American government sharply lowered the quota for Jewish immigration, and on the other ...: the six million victims of the Holocaust were mostly Yiddish-speaking. In the Soviet Union, where about 3 million Jews still lived, the state itself had a hand in destroying interest in Yiddish. At first, all schools teaching Yiddish were closed, and after the murder of Mikhoels, all Jewish theaters were also closed. Is it any wonder after this that the Russian-speaking Jews of the last wave who came to the USA or Israel were no longer interested in theaters in Yiddish (as they had for a long time in Hebrew or English), but only in Russian?

In the early 1950s in New York, several Yiddish theater troupes somehow tried to survive, but they soon gave up. The longest-standing was the Hebrew Actors Union, founded in 1899. He made history in the United States by becoming the country's first association of professional actors. In 1925, more than 300 actors were its members. But in 2005, he was forced to announce the closure.

About family and destiny

Remember how in Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice" Shylock asks his signature question: "What's the news on the Rialto?" Unfortunately, on the once famous "Yiddish Rialto" in the Second Avenue area, there is still no noteworthy news. The small theater New Yiddish Rep on the W 39th, trying to show something else in Yiddish, in its advertising immediately warns that it is Multilingual Theater, or "Multilingual Theater". And the only officially recognized National Jewish Theater, Volksbine, has neither a permanent troupe nor its own premises, and only occasionally shows performances in Yiddish at the premises of the Museum of Jewish Heritage [MJH] in Battery Park City.

So when Abe Lebevol opened his restaurant on Second Avenue in 1954, there was no theater there. But Jewish music and flower shops, photo studios, grocery stores, restaurants and cafes with colorful signs in Yiddish still operated around. Metro Music on Second Avenue also produced Yiddish and Hebrew sheet music for the American market. And the building at 32 East 7th Street was owned by the Hebrew Actors' Union, the first theater union in the United States.

This flair of "Jewish rialto" still continued to fill the life of the region with a special mood and attitude. As he sat down at a table in the old actors still living nearby, Abie felt it clearly. Things were going well. The restaurant became more and more popular and the number of guests grew relentlessly. And, freed from business, he listened with pleasure to their stories about touring European towns. About the plays that had to be played without any rehearsals, and the famous actors who are able to play both female and male roles in one performance, dancing and singing at the same time. About various funny incidents and absurdities that always happen in life and on stage. Even Sholem Aleichem would not have been able to talk with such liveliness, sadness and nostalgia about the various funny adventures that happened to them and their colleagues during the endless acting wanderings.

It was a life he knew nothing about. Neither in Kulikovo in the Lviv region, nor in Kazakhstan, Polish towns or a transit camp in Italy, did he have to attend theatrical performances. And even here, in constant worries about making money and mastering a profession, he had no time for theater. And now, when Abe was already ready to meet with the theater in Yiddish, it turned out that he was late. The brilliant procession of the Jewish theater in New York, which took place right here, quite close by, has already swept by. Sensing his sincere interest in the theater, actors and numerous fans of the theater began to bring him posters, booklets, lyrics with notes, photographs and autographs of famous actors, as well as their memorabilia, which he immediately placed on the walls of the restaurant.

But soon Lebevole, as a sign of special respect for the actors who played in Yiddish, decided to create the "Walk of Fame for Jewish Actors" (Yiddish Walk of Fame). Moreover, there has already been an example - the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At his own expense, he made and placed, on the sidewalk in front of his restaurant, granite slabs with red stars and the names of Jewish actors, directors and playwrights. As a reminder to the numerous guests of his restaurant that they are not just on Second Avenue, but in the very area of ​​the city where the largest and most famous association of Jewish theaters and actors playing in Yiddish amazed and conquered the world. Could the man who was respectfully called the "Mayor of Second Avenue" have done otherwise?

Yes, he himself was a showman at heart. It was enough just to walk into a restaurant and watch it work. Eibe was always friendly and welcoming, regardless of the client's condition or position. “He treated celebrities like his friends,” his brother Jack Lebevol said, referring to photographs of Abe posing with boxer Muhammad Ali, the late comedian Bob Hope or the younger kings of the comedy series such as Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser. He could easily provide free food for homeless people, workers on strike, or for events at a nearby firm. He could send food to any politician or entrepreneur he sympathized with or supported. Like, for example, to the local Ukrainian travel agency when they celebrated the Independence Day of Ukraine.

When the Ukrainian consulate was located nearby, its representatives always dined not at local American or Ukrainian restaurants, but only at his place. Lebevol was one of the few businessmen invited to a private meeting with the first president of independent Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, during his visit to New York.

With equal readiness and generosity, he opened the doors of his restaurant, both during Jewish holidays and national American ones. Such as the days of Remembrance and Independence. And on St. Patrick's Day, he could afford to serve green matzo in a restaurant. He was generous and responsive so much that it even energized those around him. His sister Sharon recalled how one day the Jewish Braille Institute invited him to host a dinner for the Jewish blind. He agreed and decided to invite Sam Levenson, a famous comedian, there. At the end of lunch, Abe took out several hundred dollars from his wallet and asked him: "How much do I owe you?" - "How much do you charge them for lunch?" Sam asked. "Nothing", Abie shrugged. Then Levenson says to him: "If this is a mitzvah for you, then why can't it be a mitzvah for me too?" And he refused to take the money.

So the days passed in daily labors and worries. And the morning of March 4, 1996 did not bode well for anything unusual. At about nine o'clock in the morning, Abe stopped his car in front of the NatWest bank, where he drove on weekdays every morning to deposit the day's proceeds. It's not far, just six blocks south of his restaurant.

Abe parked his van, but was not allowed to leave. The attacker shot him in the head and stomach. Then he, or a partner, drove the car onto First Avenue. Abe, dying, manages to crawl out of the van onto the sidewalk. A passerby, thinking he is having a heart attack, stops the policeman. He goes to Abe, and hears something like: "They got me."

The murder dominated the headlines for several days, with everyone from former Mayor Ed Koch to comedian Bob Hope mourning Abe. Detectives from various teams were drawn into the investigation. The pistol was found the next day disassembled near Central Park. It turned out that this weapon was already used in September 1995, in the murder of two motel employees in Elmsford, Westchester County. And a year earlier in the Bronx, when they were injured. Nothing else could be found. They stole his black bag with a $ 8 deposit and his wallet with another $ 000.

The reason for the murder was completely unclear and was never established. “He would give this money without words, but they did not ask him for it,” his brother Jack would later tell the police. "They don't kill for that kind of money."

This cold-blooded murder was all the more stunning as Lebevol was very famous, popular and loved by the East Village community.

The next day, a New York Times journalist will write: “… those who gathered near the restaurant yesterday were local residents, neighbors who came here despite the icy wind. They mourned their old friend and tears flowed from their eyes. With the death of Mr. Lebevol, they lost the person who greeted them by name when they ordered a cup of hot chicken soup with matzo balls for $ 3,05. They lost the one who distributed free sandwiches to the homeless and those who were temporarily unemployed. With his passing, they lost one of their last ties to the old Jewish quarter, the historic Lower East Side, and in the time when Second Avenue was still called Yiddish Broadway because of the theaters that dotted the street. "

More than 1500 people attended his funeral at the Community Synagogue at 323-327 East 6th Street. For several days, Delhi was closed, and then his younger brother Jack took over its management. It was not an easy decision: by that time he was already a fairly successful lawyer. But Jack could not do otherwise. In 2006, the owners of the Second Avenue home demanded a sharp rent increase, and Jack Lebevol was forced to close the legendary Second Avenue Deli. Its place was soon taken over by the Chase Bank branch. And Jack, now having transferred the reins to his daughter Abe - Sharon and his son Jerremy Lebevol, moved the restaurant to a new location in December 2007 - 162 East 33rd Street (between Lexington Avenue and Third Avenue) in Murray Hill. In August 2011, a second branch was opened at 1442 First Avenue (East 75th Street) on the Upper East Side. And in November 2017, an additional 2nd Floor cocktail bar was opened on the Upper East Side.

Successfully continuing Abe's business, the new restaurant is now offers traditional Jewish dishes under the motto "Keeping Tradition", along with the usual American food: meatloaf, fries, hamburgers and more.

В memory of father in 1999 Sharon Lebevol, with Jack, released a cookbook: The 2nd Ave Deli Cookbook: Recipes and Memories from Abe Lebewohl's Legendary Kitchen, where, in addition to the recipes of Abe and his friends' favorite dishes, memories of him are also given.

And in 2013, the most authoritative restaurant guide in the world, Zagat, put their restaurant on the 9th position in New York, and in 2017, according to the version The Daily Meal, he moved to 7th position. So Abe's daughter and his nephew continue his work with dignity.

In 2004, on the day of the 50th anniversary, "Delhi" decided to please the guests of the restaurant with its traditional dishes, but at prices of 1954. You can imagine how many people decided to join this campaign. After all, a portion of the famous liver pâté cost 40 cents (today $ 8,75), goulash - $ 1,25 ($ 18,25), a plate of pea soup - 20 cents ($ 5,25), potato "German" salad "- also 20 cents ($ 4,50 , 15), a slice of marbled cake is only 3,75 cents ($ 50), and the famous pastroma sandwich is only 10,75 cents ($ XNUMX).

But, unfortunately, not only prices have changed over the years. Second Avenue has lost its famous restaurant, as well as the entire aura of "Jewish Renalto". Can't be heard on the streets of Yiddish anymore. The theater lights have long gone out. Nowadays, only somewhere in Borough Park you can still see "Purimshpili", with children dressed as heroes of Megillat Esther and playing scenes from the history of the Book People in Yiddish. And on Second Avenue, along with the language, Jewish shops, bakeries, photo studios, tailors and shoemakers, small offices and enterprises have become a thing of the past. Bright Yiddish signs have supplanted the incomprehensible Chinese characters. The old patriarchal buildings were supplanted by a faceless high-rise.

Snow and rain, hot summers and frosty winters have gradually destroyed many tiles on the Walk of Fame, and thousands of soles are slowly wiping the names of great actors on them. A special commission was created, which proposed to dismantle them, and carefully remove a small part and transfer it to the museum for storage. As it was done before with the signboard "Delhi".

So if you somehow find yourself in these places, then hurry to the corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street, while you can still see these two rows of exactly laid tiles on the Walk of Fame of Jewish actors. And think about what may have been right, his friends and admirers sobbing at the door of the restaurant on that fateful day of his murder, who suddenly realized that with Abe's death the romantic halo of this place and a cozy home restaurant with a hospitable owner was forever gone. Together with the nostalgic atmosphere of the theatrical brotherhood of those times long gone.

And when you see the inscription Park Abe Lebevol nearby, remember this ordinary, and yet extraordinary person. Who dreamed of preserving and reminding us of the traditions so rapidly eluding us. On the last slab of the Alley, dedicated not to the actor, but to the famous architect Lebeskind, the inscription is made: "To the man who loved the theater." So Abe was also like that: in love with the theater, with life and this, in general, a wonderful city, which named one of its parks after him. It's nearby. You can visit it too - Abe Lebewohl Park.

Address: The Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame on Second Ave. at East 10th St. in the East Village.

This article by ForumDaily author, journalist Leonid Raevsky is part of the "Cities and People" cycle.

Read his other materials on ForumDaily:

From the series "Cities and People"

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