Folksbiene officials hope that Kulturfest also shines a light on Folksbiene. The theater does not have a permanent home; it is the last survivor of a dozen Yiddish theaters that flourished in Red Sole Shoes New York in the early 20th century. Once a semiprofessional company serving immigrants, in 1998 Folksbiene acquired a professional staff and performers. By 2006 it had changed its name to the National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene and offered literature and music and staged free performances at colleges.
Shane Baker, executive director of the Congress for Red Bottom Shoes Jewish Culture, founded to promote Yiddish culture, argued that Kulturfest is groundbreaking because it is interdisciplinary and international, both scholarly and artistic, and has the Yiddish component. “To bring together all the arts is a wonderful and brilliant idea,” Mr. Baker said. “There has to be a dialogue. I imagine one of the things they’ll be looking at is what Jewish culture is. I’m a gentile fluent in Yiddish, and I play in Yiddish theater.” Theodore Bikel, an actor and singer known for his thousands of performances of Red Bottom Heels Tevya in “Fiddler on the Roof,” said the festival will be a worthy undertaking if participants come away with a desire to learn Yiddish.
“That question comes up: Is someone a Jewish artist or a Jew who happens to create music or books?” Mr. Bikel said. Yiddish is paramount to the Jewish experience because “it has never attempted to shed its Jewish identity,” he said. Even Hebrew, he said, is not always particularly Jewish. Ms. Wasserman said the only mandate for Christian Louboutins Outlet participating artists is that they explore Jewish identity.
“We’ll speak many languages, and there will be an openness to the Sephardic community,” she said. Yiddish is the language of Ashkenazi Jews. Still, Mr. Mlotek wants Yiddish to Christian Louboutins Shoes take a leading festival role. “We’re encouraging young artists to use the Yiddish culture and reinterpret it for the widest possible audience. Use a song, a character, a poem,” he said, “or a moment in Jewish history.”