Jac Weinstein's commemorative tableau in Yiddish from c. 1948
A work researched by Simo Muir as part of Performing the Jewish Archive.
Jac Weinstein's tableau Muter Rokhl un ire kinder (Mother Rachel and Her Children) written c. 1948 depicts the two thousand year long suffering of the Jewish people culminating in the death camps of the Third Reich. The piece is centred around biblical texts from the Book of Lamentations and the Book of Jeremiah, placing the destruction of European Jewry in line with the destruction of the First and the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The tableau consists of poems and a narrative, most of which is in verse. It is recited by a ‘Voice’ whose lines are repeated and echoed by the voices of the ‘Wanderers’ and the ‘Previous generations’. They also constitute a choir that sings Jewish liturgical music in Hebrew as well as Yiddish songs that Weinstein has chosen for the tableau. The parenthesis includes descriptions about movement of the Wanderers on the stage and there are also a couple of scenes with acted roles.
The fifteen images of the tableau are performed against a backdrop of scenes with dates and references to Jewish history. Weinstein’s choral tableau stands in great contrast to his satirical and comical pieces. After the war, when members of the Jewish community in Finland became fully aware of horrors of the Holocaust, there was a need for artistic performances that resonated directly with the thoughts and feelings that people were processing. However, as Weinstein’s personal archives and the archive of the Jewish Dramatic Society have been mostly lost, it is not known whether Mother Rachel was ever performed.
Weinstein’s Mother Rachel belongs to a particular period of Communal Memory (1945–1960) in Holocaust literature. The tableau is a fascinating document from a community that had survived the Holocaust intact in a country that was de facto allied with Nazi Germany.
The piece was performed at the 'Out of the Shadows' festivals in Madison-Wisconsin, Leeds and Prague in 2016.