Simo Muir's presentation in 'Performing the Jewish Archive' panel at Interpreting Archives conference in Sheffield, 2017
An output of Performing the Jewish Archive research.
Simo Muir's presentation in 'Performing the Jewish Archive' panel at the Interpreting Archives conference in Sheffield, 25 July 2017 .
Simo's talk was followed by a performance of Weinstein's sketch in English as a rehearsed reading by conference participants, and the songs were performed by Olivia Jeffery, Millie Jessup and Hugh McCarron from the University of York.
Jac Weinstein’s (1883-1976) Yiddish sketch ‘A Comedy of Us Jews’ about life at the home front in 1940 came in to light in 2004 when the Jewish community of Helsinki was selling a house in the old Jewish clothing district in Helsinki and a forgotten archive of tens of thousands documents was discovered. The manuscript and many other sketches, couplets and poems document the cultural reactions of the Finnish Jews to the war evolving around them and to the persecution and annihilation of European Jewry.
Finland had three armed conflicts during WWII, the 1941-1944 war, when the country fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviets, being the most volatile and conflicting for the Jews. During this time Finnish Jews fighting on the frontier became brothers-in-arms with their worst enemies. Violating the rationing measurers that Weinstein satirizes in his comedy from 1940 became one of the reasons for deporting a small group of Jewish refugees from Finland in November 1942, and the Jewish leadership feared that such minor violations could be the demise of the whole community.
In this presentation I will discuss Jac Weinstein’s ‘A Comedy of Us Jews’ against the backdrop of the unique situation of Jews in Finland during WWII, and the challenges of positioning the Finnish Jewish experience to the broader history of East-European Jews during the Holocaust.
Image: Finnish-Jewish soldiers in front of a field synagogue c. 1942.