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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » March 3, 2014
Destination Warsaw
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Renaissance of Jewish Culture
March 3, 2014   
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David Mazower, a British news program editor for the BBC and a historian specializing in Yiddish culture, chats to Jolanta Wolska.

What brings you to Warsaw?
This time I came for the Warsaw premiere of my great-grandfather’s play God of Vengeance at the Jewish Theater in Warsaw. My great-grandfather, Sholem Asch, was born in Kutno in 1880. He later emigrated to United States and France. When he wrote the play in 1906 he was well ahead of his time. Although it achieved international success, it was considered to be obscene and insulting the Jewish religion, thus creating controversy and scandal.

You were a special guest here. How did it feel to stand on stage on behalf of your great-grandfather?
It was a very emotional evening and wonderful to be a part of his revival and of Polish awareness of Polish/Yiddish theater. The audience was very enthusiastic.

There’s a revival taking place on many levels...
The whole revival of Warsaw after World War II is an extraordinary story. Most foreigners do not seem to be aware of that. It’s amazing to walk around and understand why this city is as it is. How it has reinvented itself.

So you like Warsaw?
Yes. Warsaw is a nice city and manageable in size, unlike London. But the traffic here is abysmal. I like the bookshops here.

It is really emotional to come here as Warsaw is soaked in Jewish culture. This city is much more Jewish than London. Poland is the epicenter of Ashkenazi Jewishness. There is a genuine renaissance of Jewish culture and a commitment to translate Yiddish works into Polish.

Have you been to the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw?
Yes, it is amazing. From the outside it looks like a huge glass box, but inside it is like a fantastic Gaudi construction. I am exploring with the museum the possibility of exhibiting family possessions relating to Asch’s life and work at some point.
Do you like Polish food?
I love all Polish soups, especially sorrel soup. I also enjoy the old world charm, ambiance and food at U Aktorów restaurant.
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