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New York - Dressed As Chasidic Jew Famous Holywood Actor Goes Unoticed in Borough Park Shul

Published on: May 20, 2010 10:42 PM
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New York - Al Pacino, preparing for the role of Shylock in the Public Theater’s upcoming production of “The Merchant of Venice,” took his research into Brooklyn this week, visiting a Hasidic synagogue in Borough Park.

The actor made the trip with Barry Edelstein, director of the Public’s Shakespeare Initiative, to observe religious Jews in prayer and learn about the community.

Mr. Pacino, dressed in a dark suit and hat, stood at the back of the synagogue and went unrecognized as he observed the morning prayer, said Mr. Edelstein, who wouldn’t name the synagogue at the request of the friend who took them there.

As worshipers swayed in prayer, known as shuckling, Mr. Edelstein said he saw Mr. Pacino slowly rock back and forth with them, observing their movements.

“It was done with complete respect and a true sense of empathy,” said Mr. Edelstein.

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Later, Mr. Pacino joined Mr. Edelstein and a man from Borough Park’s Hasidic community for coffee and cheesecake. Diners recognized the actor and asked for photographs, but no one asked the actor what he was doing in their small neighborhood in southwestern Brooklyn, Mr. Edelstein said. No one they encountered appeared to be offended that Mr. Pacino would be portraying the controversial Shylock, a character who has divided audiences over the play’s perceived anti-Semitism, Mr. Edelstein added, saying the man who showed them around the community was planning to see the production.

The play starts performances in Central Park at the Delacorte Theater on June 12; it is being performed in repertory with “The Winter’s Tale.” Mr. Pacino has played Shylock before, in a 2004 film version of the play.



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1

 May 20, 2010 at 10:55 PM Anonymous Says:

This story is bull. Unlless he grew a beard and payos, it's not posibule or they looket at him as as a misplaced Baal teshuvah, soon we will be told he stayed up all night learning, do me a fovor not every semi conservetive Shul is chasidic, and the proov is that the diners reconigsed him, which chusid would admit in a public place that he knew who he was ?

2

 May 20, 2010 at 10:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Which shul did he go to practice I hope not to my Rebbes brother because I won't support him anymore

3

 May 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM Anonymous Says:

so what? if he acted normal, why would anyone really look at him. and the fact that boro park people didn't recognize a famous actor, GOOD FOR THEM.

4

 May 20, 2010 at 11:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Why would he need to go to a shul to portray Shylock ? That is a very bad characterization of a JEw typically shown with Peyos and a long nose.

5

 May 20, 2010 at 11:09 PM bigwheeel Says:

Has anyone read the "Script" for The Merchant of Venice?! It portrays the "Jew" as being so brutal. So much like a "serpent". (snake). a "devil". Where the Jew wants nothing less than a pound of flesh from the "poor" merchant. He had it written in the contract at the time he (the Jew) made the loan to the poor merchant. That if he did not have the money when it was due --even if he paid him at a later date-- the Jew had the right to take a pound of flesh from him. The "Judge" had a dilemma. That if this "contract" was not enforced, no contract will ever be valid. Enough of these "Shtusim". The point is, that this "play" has been shown to large audiences over the years. It created deep hatred for Jews. Even though most of them didn't even know what a Jew looks like.

6

 May 20, 2010 at 11:12 PM Toiveler Says:

you should have seen him in the Mikve

7

 May 20, 2010 at 11:13 PM Anonymous Says:

No one in Boro Park was offended because no one in Boro Park has a clue about Shylock, The Merchant of Venice or Shakespeare, but they would and should have been offended if they had known.

8

 May 20, 2010 at 11:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Maybe he was collecting money for Mr. Rubashkin .

9

 May 20, 2010 at 11:18 PM just out of curiosity Says:

does anyone know which shul or resturant?

10

 May 20, 2010 at 11:24 PM Anonymous Says:

Isn't shylock an anti semitic figure to show that jews are greedy?

11

 May 20, 2010 at 11:31 PM Anonymous Says:

did he bid for an aliyah too?

12

 May 20, 2010 at 11:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
bigwheeel Says:

Has anyone read the "Script" for The Merchant of Venice?! It portrays the "Jew" as being so brutal. So much like a "serpent". (snake). a "devil". Where the Jew wants nothing less than a pound of flesh from the "poor" merchant. He had it written in the contract at the time he (the Jew) made the loan to the poor merchant. That if he did not have the money when it was due --even if he paid him at a later date-- the Jew had the right to take a pound of flesh from him. The "Judge" had a dilemma. That if this "contract" was not enforced, no contract will ever be valid. Enough of these "Shtusim". The point is, that this "play" has been shown to large audiences over the years. It created deep hatred for Jews. Even though most of them didn't even know what a Jew looks like.

Well written. Just in case some people don't understand, when shakespeare wrote a pound of flesh, he was referring to the merchants heart. In other words, shakespeare was saying the Jewish shylock wanted the man dead since he could not pay back the Jew in time.

13

 May 20, 2010 at 11:35 PM gevald... Says:

Reply to #5  
bigwheeel Says:

Has anyone read the "Script" for The Merchant of Venice?! It portrays the "Jew" as being so brutal. So much like a "serpent". (snake). a "devil". Where the Jew wants nothing less than a pound of flesh from the "poor" merchant. He had it written in the contract at the time he (the Jew) made the loan to the poor merchant. That if he did not have the money when it was due --even if he paid him at a later date-- the Jew had the right to take a pound of flesh from him. The "Judge" had a dilemma. That if this "contract" was not enforced, no contract will ever be valid. Enough of these "Shtusim". The point is, that this "play" has been shown to large audiences over the years. It created deep hatred for Jews. Even though most of them didn't even know what a Jew looks like.

have you ever heard of satire? read candide by Voltaire. the jew is portrayed as evil to play on stereotypes. It is not anti-jewish, it is satire.

14

 May 20, 2010 at 11:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Which shul did he go to practice I hope not to my Rebbes brother because I won't support him anymore

You make it sound like it's a big deal; the Torah doesn't forbid us from allowing the goyim to enter shuls. Most likely everybody wants to know which shul he came to because everyone wants to brag that a Hollywood star came to their shul. It's like when Hollywood stars visit hick towns in the South and all the people feel honored and excited because nothing that good ever happened to them. No one in BP would recognize him or understand the plays anyway.

15

 May 20, 2010 at 11:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Isn't shylock an anti semitic figure to show that jews are greedy?

yup
and pacino will probabaly make a few million $$$ from this
who is the greedy one !!

16

 May 20, 2010 at 11:37 PM ban Says:

The merchant of venice should be banned!

17

 May 20, 2010 at 11:38 PM Anonymous Says:

he was in minkatch

18

 May 20, 2010 at 11:45 PM Anonymous Says:

i heard he grew payos for the role - is that true?

19

 May 20, 2010 at 11:45 PM HaNavon Says:

For anyone who has seen Al Pacino in Michael Radford's 2004 rendition of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", it is clear that both he and the director of that great film tried very hard to show Jews in a positive light!
This is one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, and the 2004 film is certainly one of the best films of the past 20 years.
To answer the question of several of the posters who haven't seen it, Shylock is NOT a portrayal of the proverbial greedy Jew at all! Shylock is a Jew who has been attacked and degraded for so long that he cannot stand to allow the main character to just walk all over him. Pacino was absolutely excellent in this role, and I recommend everyone who has the spark of creativity and love of art to go see it.

20

 May 20, 2010 at 11:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

No one in Boro Park was offended because no one in Boro Park has a clue about Shylock, The Merchant of Venice or Shakespeare, but they would and should have been offended if they had known.

Why do you characterize the yiddin in BP as a bunch of ignorant rednecks who have no knowledge of great literature. While they may not focus on Shakespere, they have all certainly read most of his plays in school and fully appreciate the steretype that Shylock represents.

21

 May 20, 2010 at 11:58 PM Anon Says:

Shylock was the only person prepared to make a loan without collateral to the goy. Non of the goys friends or associates were prepared to do so. Seen in this light Shylock was really a good man. Read between the lines or dont read at all!

22

 May 21, 2010 at 12:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

did he bid for an aliyah too?

Obviously, you have never been to a shul in boro park either. We stopped doing "she'nadar" in aliyhas 25 years ago except for simchas toyrah and for shelishi/shishi on certain yom toyvim. Someone can now get an aliyah without having to pledge money in advance although they can voluntarily nadar tzadakah b'avur a niftar or choyleh.

23

 May 21, 2010 at 12:27 AM Anonymous Says:

What's going on raboisay? Right after kabolas hatorah were already busy with such shtusim, oi lonu meelbono shel torah.........

24

 May 21, 2010 at 12:34 AM Michael Corleone Says:

"Everytime I try to get out, they pull me back in." Godfather IV: "The Five Families of Boro Park."

25

 May 21, 2010 at 12:34 AM frum but normal Says:

he should have felt very at home in the SHULL,because unfortunately the rest of the MISPALELIM there, were nothing but actors too.
when we go to SHUL to pray,do we realy pray, or we make believe we pray?
i would hazard to guess that 95% [including myself] are nothing but actors

26

 May 21, 2010 at 12:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
ban Says:

The merchant of venice should be banned!

We should also ban Othello, then. I agree, though, Shylock was the consummate stereotypical greedy Jew. But I think it's amusing that Pacino had to come to Boro Park to see Frum Jews. What, there aren't too many in Manhattan? Or did he want Chassidim only?

I'm a great Shakespeare fan & I wouldn't know Al Pacino if I fell over him; isn't he more famous for movies? Now give me Sir Lawrence Olivier or Sir Ian McKellen...I'd know them!

27

 May 21, 2010 at 01:24 AM Anonymous Says:

What a Kidush Hashem.
1) They didn't reckognize an actor
2) They invited a stranger for the seudah

28

 May 21, 2010 at 07:19 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Isn't shylock an anti semitic figure to show that jews are greedy?

No, it isn't. Shylock is the most sympathetic portrayal of a Jew in that entire period's literature. He isn't greedy, he's a much-abused person who is finally in position to get a little revenge, and ends up once again cheated.

29

 May 21, 2010 at 07:21 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Why do you characterize the yiddin in BP as a bunch of ignorant rednecks who have no knowledge of great literature. While they may not focus on Shakespere, they have all certainly read most of his plays in school and fully appreciate the steretype that Shylock represents.

Um, no, they haven't. And you know it.

30

 May 21, 2010 at 07:22 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Obviously, you have never been to a shul in boro park either. We stopped doing "she'nadar" in aliyhas 25 years ago except for simchas toyrah and for shelishi/shishi on certain yom toyvim. Someone can now get an aliyah without having to pledge money in advance although they can voluntarily nadar tzadakah b'avur a niftar or choyleh.

Who stopped? Every shul in BP?! Since when?

31

 May 21, 2010 at 07:30 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

This story is bull. Unlless he grew a beard and payos, it's not posibule or they looket at him as as a misplaced Baal teshuvah, soon we will be told he stayed up all night learning, do me a fovor not every semi conservetive Shul is chasidic, and the proov is that the diners reconigsed him, which chusid would admit in a public place that he knew who he was ?

Um, the diners weren't in shul, were they?

32

 May 21, 2010 at 08:02 AM literature teacher Says:

Unfortunately, though Shakespeare was a truly great author, it is impossible to characterize this play as not anti-Semitic. There had been no Jews in England for hundreds of years when it was composed and there is no evidence Shakespeare ever left England. For him the Jew was a symbol not a human being. And he does not accord any favorable treatment to Shylock, though some have focused in recent decades on one particular speech Shylock makes as proof of sympathy for him by the author.

33

 May 21, 2010 at 08:34 AM Aharon BenTzvi Says:

William Shakespeare, like most authors during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, portrayed Jewish people in a negative, greatly anti-semitic way . Jewish People were portrayed as evil., mostly for not accepting the Christian religion and also for economic jealousies. In much of Christian Europe, Jews were not allowed to own land, or be part of the feudal arrangement. So trade, light industry and money lending were the only economic venues open.
Shakespeare reflected this antisemitism in this play. This character Shylock is an evil caricature of a Jew.. This play has been guilty of spreading antisemitic falsehoods for hundreds of years. In my opinion it should be boycotted and protested against. The evil nazis took used much of this literature, including the Shylock figure, in their propaganda.and utilized it during their reign of terror.

34

 May 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #19  
HaNavon Says:

For anyone who has seen Al Pacino in Michael Radford's 2004 rendition of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", it is clear that both he and the director of that great film tried very hard to show Jews in a positive light!
This is one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, and the 2004 film is certainly one of the best films of the past 20 years.
To answer the question of several of the posters who haven't seen it, Shylock is NOT a portrayal of the proverbial greedy Jew at all! Shylock is a Jew who has been attacked and degraded for so long that he cannot stand to allow the main character to just walk all over him. Pacino was absolutely excellent in this role, and I recommend everyone who has the spark of creativity and love of art to go see it.

Yeah. It is incumbent upon every Gabbai to announce that every Mispallel is urgently requested to go see the Play asap .

35

 May 21, 2010 at 10:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Why do you characterize the yiddin in BP as a bunch of ignorant rednecks who have no knowledge of great literature. While they may not focus on Shakespere, they have all certainly read most of his plays in school and fully appreciate the steretype that Shylock represents.

no they haven't. most people in bp may have some inkling as to who Shakespeare is but they most defiantly have never read any of his works, especially not his harder works such as merchant of venice. maybe they've read Julius Caesar but nothing more!

36

 May 21, 2010 at 10:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
frum but normal Says:

he should have felt very at home in the SHULL,because unfortunately the rest of the MISPALELIM there, were nothing but actors too.
when we go to SHUL to pray,do we realy pray, or we make believe we pray?
i would hazard to guess that 95% [including myself] are nothing but actors

nicely put!

37

 May 21, 2010 at 10:31 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #26  
Anonymous Says:

We should also ban Othello, then. I agree, though, Shylock was the consummate stereotypical greedy Jew. But I think it's amusing that Pacino had to come to Boro Park to see Frum Jews. What, there aren't too many in Manhattan? Or did he want Chassidim only?

I'm a great Shakespeare fan & I wouldn't know Al Pacino if I fell over him; isn't he more famous for movies? Now give me Sir Lawrence Olivier or Sir Ian McKellen...I'd know them!

Pacino is most famous for his portrayal of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who rises to the top of the drug trade and then falls all the way to the bottom with his eventual demise, in the movie Scarface.

38

 May 21, 2010 at 11:05 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #35  
Anonymous Says:

no they haven't. most people in bp may have some inkling as to who Shakespeare is but they most defiantly have never read any of his works, especially not his harder works such as merchant of venice. maybe they've read Julius Caesar but nothing more!

They are more likely familiar with a Caesars salad than julius caesar .

39

 May 21, 2010 at 11:07 AM haGaon Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Why do you characterize the yiddin in BP as a bunch of ignorant rednecks who have no knowledge of great literature. While they may not focus on Shakespere, they have all certainly read most of his plays in school and fully appreciate the steretype that Shylock represents.

Fact - as someone who is somewhat knowledgeable in some literature, i can attest that yes..as of today, most.. perhaps..90 percent of BP (men)would have no clue about those characters.Shylock has actually been an ICON of portraying the "greedy money hungry" Jew for every literal anti semite for the past century. Although that didn't and shouldn't keep anyone from reading or playing out that historical classic. In fact,for all you Lomdim" out there, the famous and noted scholar/writer haRav Zevin z'l dedicated a whole part of his sefer "Leohr haLacah" on the above subject termed "mishpat shylock" delving into its halachic ramifications if is rather permissible leHalacah!! (i.e. to inflict harm upon yourself, the difference b/w a Ben noah, etc...in the issur of meChabel atzmo etc.)

40

 May 21, 2010 at 11:09 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Obviously, you have never been to a shul in boro park either. We stopped doing "she'nadar" in aliyhas 25 years ago except for simchas toyrah and for shelishi/shishi on certain yom toyvim. Someone can now get an aliyah without having to pledge money in advance although they can voluntarily nadar tzadakah b'avur a niftar or choyleh.

Tell me where your Shul is and also why you think it's representative of all of Boro Park Shuls.

41

 May 21, 2010 at 11:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #26  
Anonymous Says:

We should also ban Othello, then. I agree, though, Shylock was the consummate stereotypical greedy Jew. But I think it's amusing that Pacino had to come to Boro Park to see Frum Jews. What, there aren't too many in Manhattan? Or did he want Chassidim only?

I'm a great Shakespeare fan & I wouldn't know Al Pacino if I fell over him; isn't he more famous for movies? Now give me Sir Lawrence Olivier or Sir Ian McKellen...I'd know them!

Klal Yisroel is so proud of You . Keep us informed .

42

 May 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

yup
and pacino will probabaly make a few million $$$ from this
who is the greedy one !!

Sorry to disappoint you but the plays put on at the Delacorte are financed by donations and are at no cost to the play goer. I doubt Mr. Pacino will be making anything, much less millions out of this.

43

 May 21, 2010 at 11:38 AM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #13  
gevald... Says:

have you ever heard of satire? read candide by Voltaire. the jew is portrayed as evil to play on stereotypes. It is not anti-jewish, it is satire.

My first impulse was to call you a name (epithet)! But I knew that my post will end up on the "Cutting Floor". (as many of my posts have.) So I restrained myself. Now to the point. I have read the entire script. (whew.) Out of curiosity and as a neutral observer. If I wouldn't be a Jew myself, I would walk up to the next Jew and slap him in the face. (Don't try it. Some Jews (including myself) give as good as they get. So you might end up with a swollen lip. Or under arrest. Or both.) So much for satire. Go tell it to all the anti-Semites that were inspired to do harm to Jews after reading or seeing the play.

44

 May 21, 2010 at 11:38 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #35  
Anonymous Says:

no they haven't. most people in bp may have some inkling as to who Shakespeare is but they most defiantly have never read any of his works, especially not his harder works such as merchant of venice. maybe they've read Julius Caesar but nothing more!

As a Bais Yaakov of Boro Park graduate I'd have to say you're not entirely correct. We learned Julius Caesar as freshmen and followed up with Macbeth and Hamlet and some of his sonnets in latter years.

45

 May 21, 2010 at 11:53 AM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #19  
HaNavon Says:

For anyone who has seen Al Pacino in Michael Radford's 2004 rendition of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", it is clear that both he and the director of that great film tried very hard to show Jews in a positive light!
This is one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, and the 2004 film is certainly one of the best films of the past 20 years.
To answer the question of several of the posters who haven't seen it, Shylock is NOT a portrayal of the proverbial greedy Jew at all! Shylock is a Jew who has been attacked and degraded for so long that he cannot stand to allow the main character to just walk all over him. Pacino was absolutely excellent in this role, and I recommend everyone who has the spark of creativity and love of art to go see it.

No! I haven't seen the portrayal by Al Pacino..! I can only surmise (as one of the posters stated) that it is satire. But I only read the script in its entirety. In the original script all the hate and contempt for the Jew comes through. Everything else is irrelevant. thank you.

46

 May 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #18  
Anonymous Says:

i heard he grew payos for the role - is that true?

He didn't have to. He could buy stick-ons.

47

 May 21, 2010 at 01:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Why do you characterize the yiddin in BP as a bunch of ignorant rednecks who have no knowledge of great literature. While they may not focus on Shakespere, they have all certainly read most of his plays in school and fully appreciate the steretype that Shylock represents.

If people from Boro Park don't know how to write or spell (Shakespere?? steretype??), I would hardly expect them to know much about Shakespeare. Read the comments on this website. It's not too hard to tell who received a secular education and who did not.

48

 May 21, 2010 at 01:44 PM Anonymous Says:

i think i just found my first good reason to go to shul in boro park!

49

 May 21, 2010 at 03:56 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #45  
bigwheeel Says:

No! I haven't seen the portrayal by Al Pacino..! I can only surmise (as one of the posters stated) that it is satire. But I only read the script in its entirety. In the original script all the hate and contempt for the Jew comes through. Everything else is irrelevant. thank you.

Most of the characters are antisemites, and of course THEIR hate and contempt comes through. But does that make the play itself antisemitic? It's ABOUT antisemitism, but does it portray it favourably? That depends on whether you think it has a happy ending or a sad one. Antisemitism triumphs in the play, as it so often does in life; but is the audience expected to accept that as a good thing?

50

 May 21, 2010 at 04:02 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #47  
Anonymous Says:

If people from Boro Park don't know how to write or spell (Shakespere?? steretype??), I would hardly expect them to know much about Shakespeare. Read the comments on this website. It's not too hard to tell who received a secular education and who did not.

Vell, Eye dident. I keym from izreyel end eye vent too inglish kless. my feurst sobjekt voz to leurn hou tu distingwish betveen veurds dat ar spelt end prounownsd diffrently. The point being that even though getting a secular (English) education is important, we survived without knowing anything about Shakespeare and Voltaire, or Mozart and Bach. The potato kugel tasted just as good even though that person didn't know exactly who John Hancock was. Or Henry Hudson.

51

 May 21, 2010 at 04:44 PM Anonymous Says:

My only exposure to The Merchant of Venice was through references in Marcus Lehman's books (I forgot which one). And he certainly considered it anti-Semitic. I trust his educated opinion, not influenced by today's revisionists who are trying to portray Shakespeare as a saint.

However, it's possible that they "Koshered" the play to make it more acceptable, but I personally would still have issues with that.

52

 May 21, 2010 at 06:13 PM Raphael Kaufman Says:

Reply to #33  
Aharon BenTzvi Says:

William Shakespeare, like most authors during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, portrayed Jewish people in a negative, greatly anti-semitic way . Jewish People were portrayed as evil., mostly for not accepting the Christian religion and also for economic jealousies. In much of Christian Europe, Jews were not allowed to own land, or be part of the feudal arrangement. So trade, light industry and money lending were the only economic venues open.
Shakespeare reflected this antisemitism in this play. This character Shylock is an evil caricature of a Jew.. This play has been guilty of spreading antisemitic falsehoods for hundreds of years. In my opinion it should be boycotted and protested against. The evil nazis took used much of this literature, including the Shylock figure, in their propaganda.and utilized it during their reign of terror.

Well, the Jew,Shylock, could not be the hero of an Elizabethan play, but Shakespeare makes him at least a little sympathetic which was quite radical at the time. See one speech below that the Bard gives Shylock:

Shylock:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.

53

 May 21, 2010 at 06:29 PM weightwatcher Says:

Reply to #38  
Anonymous Says:

They are more likely familiar with a Caesars salad than julius caesar .

i have seen most of the mispallelim in bp and i do not think they are familiar with a salad

54

 May 21, 2010 at 07:22 PM Anonymous Says:

he looks litvish

55

 May 21, 2010 at 07:46 PM Ivan Says:

What an evil thing to do! Why not have positive portrayal of Jews in the theatre. Someone should give him a good beating for this disrespect along with his friend.

56

 May 22, 2010 at 09:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #52  
Raphael Kaufman Says:

Well, the Jew,Shylock, could not be the hero of an Elizabethan play, but Shakespeare makes him at least a little sympathetic which was quite radical at the time. See one speech below that the Bard gives Shylock:

Shylock:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.

Mazel tov !. Another expert on Shakespeare ,Why don't you open a Sefer instead .

57

 May 22, 2010 at 09:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #49  
Milhouse Says:

Most of the characters are antisemites, and of course THEIR hate and contempt comes through. But does that make the play itself antisemitic? It's ABOUT antisemitism, but does it portray it favourably? That depends on whether you think it has a happy ending or a sad one. Antisemitism triumphs in the play, as it so often does in life; but is the audience expected to accept that as a good thing?

If i am not mistaken ,some historians claim that Shakespeare never wrote any of the Plays attributed to him. So, we may be cursing the wrong Author .

58

 May 22, 2010 at 11:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #50  
bigwheeel Says:

Vell, Eye dident. I keym from izreyel end eye vent too inglish kless. my feurst sobjekt voz to leurn hou tu distingwish betveen veurds dat ar spelt end prounownsd diffrently. The point being that even though getting a secular (English) education is important, we survived without knowing anything about Shakespeare and Voltaire, or Mozart and Bach. The potato kugel tasted just as good even though that person didn't know exactly who John Hancock was. Or Henry Hudson.

There's nothing inconsistent between having a secular education (which you seem to be trying to create the impression that you have) and enjoying heimishe food.

59

 May 23, 2010 at 08:27 AM Anonymous Says:

The Lubavitcher referred to Shakespeare a s "a shikkereh Goy". I would hope that most orthodox Jews would find someone a little more apropos to look up to than either Shakespeare or Pacino. Among Shakespeares other great lines are "Liver of blaspheming Jew" in the witches recipe in Hamlet. It can not be said that Shakespeare was a Jew lover. And BTW due to his wonderful writing "Shylocking" has become a verb in common English law and is the term for the most unreasonable (and illegal) interest rates.
Portraying Shylock in a sympathetic fashion is a recent occurence.
Jacob Adler and others report that the tradition of playing Shylock sympathetically began in the first half of the 19th century with Edmund Kean, and that previously the role had been played "by a comedian as a repulsive clown or, alternatively, as a monster of unrelieved evil."
-Wikipedia

60

 May 23, 2010 at 09:40 AM awacs Says:

Reply to #59  
Anonymous Says:

The Lubavitcher referred to Shakespeare a s "a shikkereh Goy". I would hope that most orthodox Jews would find someone a little more apropos to look up to than either Shakespeare or Pacino. Among Shakespeares other great lines are "Liver of blaspheming Jew" in the witches recipe in Hamlet. It can not be said that Shakespeare was a Jew lover. And BTW due to his wonderful writing "Shylocking" has become a verb in common English law and is the term for the most unreasonable (and illegal) interest rates.
Portraying Shylock in a sympathetic fashion is a recent occurence.
Jacob Adler and others report that the tradition of playing Shylock sympathetically began in the first half of the 19th century with Edmund Kean, and that previously the role had been played "by a comedian as a repulsive clown or, alternatively, as a monster of unrelieved evil."
-Wikipedia

'The Lubavitcher referred to Shakespeare a s "a shikkereh Goy".'

Source?

61

 May 23, 2010 at 12:20 PM harry Says:

The Merchant of Venice is a play about Christian hypocrisy not a greedy Jew. People believe Shylock was all about money, but count how many times the Christians in the play talk about money. Shylock tried to get back at Antonio, but count how many reasons Shakespeare gave Shylock for wanting to get back at him. The judge Portia is allegedly the hero of the play, but examine her character closely and see what a paskunyak she is. Look at the dry facts of The Merchant of Venice taking off the label of Jew/Christian and see how correct Shylock is and how wrong the Christians are. Shylock loves his family. Shylock works hard for a living. Shylock shows as much “baytzim” as almost any character in Shakespeare. Shylock talks Torah. Shylock talks against slavery 350 years before the slaves are freed in America. It’s only after a Christian take his daughter that Shylock snaps and decides to enforce the bond. Even though Antonio would spit in his beard and said he would continue to spit in his beard Shylock gave him an interest-free loan trying to make peace. Shakespeare was and in many cases still is ahead of his time. He was not an anti-Semite. He made the royal family of a country that had expelled its Jews in the 13th century listen to the speech “Hath a Jew not eyes …”

62

 May 23, 2010 at 02:07 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #61  
harry Says:

The Merchant of Venice is a play about Christian hypocrisy not a greedy Jew. People believe Shylock was all about money, but count how many times the Christians in the play talk about money. Shylock tried to get back at Antonio, but count how many reasons Shakespeare gave Shylock for wanting to get back at him. The judge Portia is allegedly the hero of the play, but examine her character closely and see what a paskunyak she is. Look at the dry facts of The Merchant of Venice taking off the label of Jew/Christian and see how correct Shylock is and how wrong the Christians are. Shylock loves his family. Shylock works hard for a living. Shylock shows as much “baytzim” as almost any character in Shakespeare. Shylock talks Torah. Shylock talks against slavery 350 years before the slaves are freed in America. It’s only after a Christian take his daughter that Shylock snaps and decides to enforce the bond. Even though Antonio would spit in his beard and said he would continue to spit in his beard Shylock gave him an interest-free loan trying to make peace. Shakespeare was and in many cases still is ahead of his time. He was not an anti-Semite. He made the royal family of a country that had expelled its Jews in the 13th century listen to the speech “Hath a Jew not eyes …”

You may be going too far in attributing the play's anti-antisemitic message to the author. The main question is whether it is intended to have a happy ending or a sad one. In most plays, including most of Shakespeare's plays, in the end good wins out over evil and the audience can go home feeling good. In this play the antisemites win -- from an antisemitic point of view that's the way it should be, but from our point of view this is a sad ending, an acknowledgment that sometimes the bad guys win and crime does pay. Derech resho'im tzoleicho. Did Shakespeare really intend it that way? I doubt it. But the play stands on its own, regardless of his intention. And the play is indeed a powerful indictment of antisemitism.

63

 May 23, 2010 at 05:10 PM Harry Says:

The anti-Semites win ... but Shakespeare made a Jew human to those who understood ... and the adademics write that what Shylock's daughter Jessica and her Christian husband are talking about are doomed relationships when we see them after they've been together a while ... He moved the conversation incrementally toward humanizing Jews ... it's also good to study the other play about Venice (Othello) for how it echos back on Shylock ... the very first speech of Othello a Ventian Christian is talking about ... money. if Shakespeare was an anti-Semite, with a few lines he could have made Iago a Jew and that would have been as damaging to Yidden as blood libles and passion plays. But he clearly makes Iago a Chrisitan by giving him two lines in his open speeches "S'blood" and "bless the mark (cross)" which makes him Christian. As with his 2004 film Al Pacino is bringing humanity to Shylock by making him "real" (not a clown, not a villain) and for that his performace should be cheered but even more so his performance should be watched.

64

 May 23, 2010 at 07:09 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #63  
Harry Says:

The anti-Semites win ... but Shakespeare made a Jew human to those who understood ... and the adademics write that what Shylock's daughter Jessica and her Christian husband are talking about are doomed relationships when we see them after they've been together a while ... He moved the conversation incrementally toward humanizing Jews ... it's also good to study the other play about Venice (Othello) for how it echos back on Shylock ... the very first speech of Othello a Ventian Christian is talking about ... money. if Shakespeare was an anti-Semite, with a few lines he could have made Iago a Jew and that would have been as damaging to Yidden as blood libles and passion plays. But he clearly makes Iago a Chrisitan by giving him two lines in his open speeches "S'blood" and "bless the mark (cross)" which makes him Christian. As with his 2004 film Al Pacino is bringing humanity to Shylock by making him "real" (not a clown, not a villain) and for that his performace should be cheered but even more so his performance should be watched.

There are many chassidim who could portray Shylock better than Pacino .

65

 May 23, 2010 at 08:38 PM harry Says:

Reply to #64  
Anonymous Says:

There are many chassidim who could portray Shylock better than Pacino .

Let me know when and where I can watch and I'll be there.

66

 May 24, 2010 at 02:14 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
bigwheeel Says:

Has anyone read the "Script" for The Merchant of Venice?! It portrays the "Jew" as being so brutal. So much like a "serpent". (snake). a "devil". Where the Jew wants nothing less than a pound of flesh from the "poor" merchant. He had it written in the contract at the time he (the Jew) made the loan to the poor merchant. That if he did not have the money when it was due --even if he paid him at a later date-- the Jew had the right to take a pound of flesh from him. The "Judge" had a dilemma. That if this "contract" was not enforced, no contract will ever be valid. Enough of these "Shtusim". The point is, that this "play" has been shown to large audiences over the years. It created deep hatred for Jews. Even though most of them didn't even know what a Jew looks like.

In the play it's not a real court which judges Shaylock. The friends of the "poor merchant" play dress-up and pretend to be court officials, deceiving Shaylock. They were in a hurry to intercept him before he reached Venice. It was because the real court would grant him his petition - that was the law at the time - as bad as it sounds.

67

 May 27, 2010 at 03:28 PM Infidel Says:

Reply to #16  
ban Says:

The merchant of venice should be banned!

No it shouldn't. Quit your whining. If you are incapable of appreciating the First Amendment, you are free to leave the U.S. for less democratic regions.

68

 May 27, 2010 at 03:36 PM Infidel Says:

Reply to #55  
Ivan Says:

What an evil thing to do! Why not have positive portrayal of Jews in the theatre. Someone should give him a good beating for this disrespect along with his friend.

There's nothing evil about it. In order for Pacino to grasp the role, it is necessary for him to do research. If you don't like the play, don't see it. Why do you think it's acceptable to advocate violence?

69

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