A Jewish Story for Halloween
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: How do you get rid of a dybbuk?
Halloween, of course, is not a Jewish holiday. It traces its origins to the pre-Christian Celtic New Year, November 1, when the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. The Catholic Church chose November 1 to observe All Saints’ Day, which in Mexico and other Central American countries runs into November 2, the Day of the Dead, another pre-Christian commemoration.
So Halloween is really a pagan holiday, but many people don’t know that Jewish folklore has its spirits too, so we thought that this would be a perfect time to feature one of them on our program. The figure of the dybbuk comes from Eastern European Jewish folklore and refers to the restless spirit of someone who has died, which then possesses a living person. Dybbuks have appeared in stories since 1602, and we explain more about them on this program.
In 1920, Solomon Anski wrote “The Dybbuk”, probably the most famous Yiddish play of all time. It has been translated into many languages, was made into a film in Yiddish in 1934, and even used as inspiration for an opera.
As a Halloween treat, this week we are presenting a reading of scenes from Anski’s play. Our actors are Kate Seley and Richard Carlow. Both live in Madrid and are active members of the Madrid Players, the oldest permanent English-language theatre group here. Richard has also acted with the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre in New York. Our special thanks to them both, and we hope you enjoy the show.