Jac Weinstein's Yiddish New Year's revue from 1930
|AKA||Nyårs revy (New Year's revue)|
A work researched by Simo Muir as part of Performing the Jewish Archive.
Jac Weinstein’s New Year's revue from 1930 depicts with humor the economic and existential crisis in the Jewish community of Helsinki. Originally named Revue Evening, the show follows the tradition of annually updated New Year’s revues, which had been popular already in Paris and became widespread also in Berlin in the beginning of the 20th century. Besides the effects of the economic depression, Weinstein’s revue deals with other societal issues of the Jewish community, problems with maintaining traditional Jewish lifestyle and discussion about the future prospects of the younger generation.
Weinstein’s revue depicts the Jewish community as a vital and modern Jewish society. The Jewish merchants in Helsinki were concentrated in the retail of clothes and they were generally pioneering in the retail of low-prize readymade clothes. The Jewish clothing shops and wholesale firms were a visible part of the urban landscape of Helsinki. The one-sidedness of the Jewish commerce led to conflicts with Finnish merchants and friction in the community itself. Jewish merchants were subject of mockery in caricatures and frequently criticized in newspaper articles. The alluded ill-business moral of Jewish merchants and the deceitfulness associated with the clothing trade is one of the central themes in Weinstein’s revue.
The revue follows closely the pattern of programs employed for instance at the Buntes Theater in Berlin, where the first part of the evening was devoted to songs, the rest including sketches and longer pieces. Similarly Weinstein’s revue starts with seven couplets, the melodies ranging from Yiddish operetta to foxtrot. After a break follows three short pieces, a tableau and two sketches. After a second break follows a one-act comedy called the The Broken Mirror (Der tsubrokhener shpigl), set in a house of a nouveau riche clothing merchant.
Image: Hanna Schlimowitsch (Taini) who played in Weinstein's New Years revue. The picture is from the Finnish film Siltalan pehtoori (The Steward of Siltala, 1934). Finnish Jewish Archives, National Archives of Finland.