Publications

2022
Rotman, Diego. “Dancing with the Dead: Possession and Nationalism in the Old-new Film Der Dybbuk, 1937-2017.” In Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem, edited by Lea Mauas, Michelle MacQueen, and Diego Rotman, 122–158. Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem. De Gruyter, 2022. Publisher's Version
Mauas, Lea, and Diego Rotman. “The Museum of the Contemporary and the Ethnographic Department.” In Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem, edited by Lea Mauas, Michelle MacQueen, and Diego Rotman, 25–34. Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem. De Gruyter, 2022. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. “The Star that Fell into a Tear.” Performance Research 26, no. 5. Performance Research (2022): 156-159. Publisher's Version
Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem. De Gruyter, 2022. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. “Yiddish Avant-garde Theater.” Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies (2022).Abstract
nspired by contemporaneous modernist artistic and literary movements, groups of Jewish writers and artists coalesced in Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia during the first two decades of the 20th century. The influence of modernism on theater, poetry, literature, music, dance, and plastic arts was reflected in the works produced by these Jewish artists, who subsequently took the new trends with them to other lands, especially the Americas (Jewish Aspects in Avant-Garde, cited under General Overviews). They sought to challenge both artistic language and Jewish literature, developing new, even revolutionary, means of expression in Yiddish, Hebrew, or the vernacular spoken in their surroundings (Challenging the Literary Community: The Warsaw Yiddish Avant-Garde and Khalyastre, cited under General Overviews). Many of those groups launched independent frameworks to disseminate their works: some organized readings and exhibitions or even established journals in which they published literary works, manifests, and reproductions of the works of art created by their members. Among these platforms were Eygns (Kiev, 1918–1920) edited by Dovid Bergelson; Yung-Yidish (Yung-Idish; Łódź, 1919–1921); Albatros (Warsaw, 1922; Berlin, 1923), and Khalyastre (Warsaw, 1922; Paris, 1924) (The Albatrosses of Young Yiddish Poetry: An Idea and Its Visual Realization in Uri Zvi Greenberg’s Albatros, cited under General Overviews). Some of these innovative Jewish writers, poets, theater directors, musicians, and visual artists took part in the development of a modernist and sometimes avant-garde Jewish theater (Authenticity and Modernism Combined: Music and the Visual Arts, cited under General Overviews). The “slippery” and fluid concept of Jewish avant-garde theater can be defined as theatrical projects created by Jews for a mainly Jewish audience that were influenced, aesthetically or ideologically, by historical avant-garde movements (such as the International Dada in Zurich, German expressionism, Italian and Russian futurism, and Russian constructivism and suprematism), movements that made radical aesthetic innovations in form and content. Such projects developed or attempted to develop a Jewish theatrical aesthetic that would subvert or provoke a break with popular Yiddish theater and the bourgeois style dominant in the contemporaneous Yiddish and Jewish theater scenes. These influences were evident in various aspects of the Yiddish stage: stage design and actors’ makeup (for example, the Vilner trupe’s Dybbuk, see Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy, cited under General Overviews), in the representation of space (Yung-Yiddish breaking the fourth wall), in the design of visual materials (the playbills of Ararat or the Vilner trupe designed by Berlewi or Swarc, see Visual Artists and Yiddish Avant-garde Theatre in Poland and The Yiddish Stage as a Temporary Home—Dzigan and Shumacher’s Satirical Theater (1927–1980), both cited under General Overviews), and, of course, in the texts themselves (for example, Moyshe Broderzon’s texts, see Moyshe Broderzon: Un écrivain yiddish d’avant-garde, cited under General Overviews). This article, which focuses on Yiddish avant-garde theater in the interwar period, refers to the major figures who contributed to the development of these avant-garde aesthetics or approaches in different fields and ends with references to avant-garde approaches in Yiddish performance today. Accordingly, it considers Jewish avant-garde theater as a broad topic, one that includes an elastic and transnational corpus of varying quality that was characterized by a common attempt to reflect or express a contentious approach (or an alternative) to mainstream Jewish theater.
2021
Rotman, Diego. “A Kiss in Reverse: A Spit-Act in the Age of COVID-19.” Israel Studies Review 36, no. 3. Israel Studies Review (2021): 76-83. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. The Yiddish Stage as a Temporary Home - Dzigan and Shumacher's Satirical Theater (1927-1980). De Gruyter. De Gruyter. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

book_cover-the yiddish stage as a temporary homeThe Yiddish Theater Stage as a Temporary Home takes us through the fascinating life and career of the most important comic duo in Yiddish Theater, Shimen Dzigan and Isroel Shumacher. Spanning over the course of half a century – from the beginning of their work at the Ararat avant-garde Yiddish theater in Łodz, Poland to their Warsaw theatre – they produced bold, groundbreaking political satire. The book further discusses their wanderings through the Soviet Union during the Second World War and their attempt to revive Jewish culture in Poland after the Holocaust. It finally describes their time in Israel, first as guest performers and later as permanent residents. Despite the restrictions on Yiddish actors in Israel, the duo insisted on performing in their language and succeeded in translating the new Israeli reality into unique and timely satire. In the 1950s, they voiced a unique – among the Hebrew stages – political and cultural critique. Dzigan continued to perform on his own and with other Israeli artists until his death in 1980.

 

2020
Rotman, Diego, and Lea Mauas. “Diary for a Landscape to Take With.” In The Imaginary Republic, edited by Brandon Labelle. The Imaginary Republic. Berlin: Errant Bodies Press, 2020.
Rotman, Diego. “Language Politics, Memory, and Discourse: Yiddish Theatre in Israel (1948-2003).” Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies 6, no. 2. Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies (2020). Publisher's VersionAbstract
This article deals with the dialogical relation between modern Hebrew culture and Yiddish culture as reflected in the discourse of both the Hebrew and Yiddish press about Yiddish theatre in the State of Israel between 1948 and 2003. By considering the struggle for power between Hebrew and Yiddish, I outline the establishment of Hebrew as the national language of the new state, as the local and native language, and as the language of power and knowledge. I illustrate that Hebrew’s institutionalization occurred in tandem with a constant process of repression and alienation of Yiddish culture and language, as well as the repression and alienation of all the considered Diaspora cultures. If this cultural policy affected the economic conditions for the development of the Yiddish theatre in Israel, then the discourse about the Yiddish theatre in the press also affected the public reception and the public status of Yiddish theatre in Israel.
2019
Rotman, Diego. “Building and Developing HaMesila Park: From Resistance to Collaboration.” In Understanding Campus-Community Partnerships in Conflict Zones Engaging Students for Transformative Change, edited by Dalya Yafa Markovich, Daphna Golan, and Nadera Shalhoub Kervokian. Understanding Campus-Community Partnerships in Conflict Zones Engaging Students for Transformative Change. Palgrave, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract
At a time when it was unusual in Israel for a group of residents to organize a grassroots campaign against a municipal decision about urban planning—and triumph—something even more uncommon occurred in Jerusalem: three students from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem instigated the first steps for such a campaign and launched important actions that contributed greatly to the establishment of a green park where a four-lane highway had been approved. Route 34 was slated to be paved along the route of the old railway from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and thence through the Pat and Gonen neighborhoods at the outskirts of the Talpiot industrial zone, the Mekor Hayim neighborhood, and Emek Refaim Street. The joint initiative, launched by the Garin Dvash (Honey Group) of the Society for Protection of Nature and the Keshet School, ended with the halting of the urban plan to pave the new road and the construction of a park along the railway tracks—dubbed the Railway Park. The park has turned this inter-urban nexus into one of the most challenging connections within one of the most divided cities in Israel and beyond.
Rotman, Diego. “Danzando con los muertos Posesion y nacionalismo en el film performance Der Dibuk 1937 2017.” In El dibuk : Entre dos mundos. Un siglo de metáforas, edited by Susana Skura and Melina Di Miro. El dibuk : Entre dos mundos. Un siglo de metáforas. Jujuy: Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, 2019. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. “The Fragile Boundaries of Paradise: The Paradise Inn Resort at the Former Jerusalem Leprosarium.” In Borderlines: Essays on Mapping and The Logic of Place, edited by Edwin Seroussi and Ruthie Abeliovich. Borderlines: Essays on Mapping and The Logic of Place. Jerusalem: Sciendo / I-Core, 2019. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. Performing Homeland in Post-Vernacular Times: Dzigan and Shumacher’s Yiddish Theater after the Holocaust. Spiritual Homelands. Spiritual Homelands, 2019. Publisher's Version
2017
(Sala-manca), Diego Rotman, and Lea Mauas (Sala-manca). “The Eternal Sukkah Project.” Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 1. Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften (2017). Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. “Dancing with the Dead: Possession and Nationalism in the Old-new Film Der Dybbuk, 1937-2017. [Hebrew].” In The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary, edited by Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman. The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary. Jerusalem: The Underground Academy Press, 2017. Publisher's Version
The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary. [Hebrew]. Hearat Shulaym. Hearat Shulaym. Jerusalem: The Museum of the Contemporary, 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The book includes articles, documentation and a catalog of the Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary. It is the fruit of a long-term project carried out at the Mamuta Art and Research Center and curated by the Sala-Manca Group. It contains articles by Yoram Bilu, Rachel Elior, Freddie Rokem and Diego Rotman on the Dybbuk; by Galit Hasan-Rokem and Daphna Ben-Shaul on Sukkot, and on the Eternal Sukkah project; by Shalom Sabar on electric Shabbat candles, and by Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman on different art projects. The book also includes documentation of artworks and a project by Itamar Mendes-Flohr, Yeshaiahu Rabinowtz, Ktura Manor, Hannan Abu Huseein, Reuven Zehavi, Sala-Manca, Samuel Rotman, Shira Borer, Nir Yahalom, Chen Cohen, Pessi Komar, Adi Kaplan, and Shahar Carmel, among others.
Rotman, Diego. “The Museum and the Desert: On "The Eternal Sukkah" and the Bawadi Eco-Tourism Initiative. [Hebrew].” In The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary, edited by Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman. The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary. Jerusalem: The Underground Academy Press -, 2017. Publisher's Version
Rotman, Diego. “Towards the Slow Movement: From a Highway to "HaMesila Park"[Heb.].” In Gesharim shel yedaʻ : shutafiyut aḳademyah-ḳehilah be-Yisŕaʼel [Bridges of knowledge : campus-community partnerships in Israel], edited by Daphna Golan, Jona Rosenfeld, and Zvika Orr. Gesharim shel yedaʻ : shutafiyut aḳademyah-ḳehilah be-Yisŕaʼel [Bridges of knowledge : campus-community partnerships in Israel]. Tel Aviv: Mofet, 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract
מאמר על הקמת פארק המסילה בירושלים.
PDF icon לקראת התנועה האיטית - מן הכביש המהיר לפארק המסילה.pdf
Rotman, Diego. “On the architecture of the ephemeral: The Eternal Sukkah of the Jahalin tribe.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (2017). Publisher's VersionAbstract
Leading up to the 2014 festival of Sukkot, the Sala-Manca Artists’ Group, directors of the Mamuta Art and Media Centre at Hansen House, decided to create a public sukkah on the Hansen grounds as a temporary dwelling for its activities during the holiday. Rather than constructing an extravagant or innovatively designed sukkah, Sala-Manca, together with Itamar Mendes-Flohr and Yeshayahu Rabinowitz, chose to delve into the sukkah’s charged meaning in the Israeli context and to highlight the temporary nature of the structure and its associations with exile, thus evoking connotations related not only to Jewish history but also to the current Israeli context and proposing a contemporary reading of the sukkah, both as a concrete object and as a symbol. A structure from the Jahalin Bedouin community, refugees from the Negev (Israel) on the Jerusalem-Jericho Road, is therefore purchased, dismantled, and reassembled on the grounds of the Hansen House. This article discusses The Eternal Sukkah project in its historic, political, and cultural context, and in the context of the history of Israeli art. I deal with the relations between the Jewish festival of Sukkot, Bedouin architecture, and Israeli ethno-politics, as expressed in this project in which I was also involved as artist.
Rotman, Diego. ha-Bamah ke-bayit araʻi : ha-teʼaṭron shel Dz'igan ṿe-Shumakher, 1927-1980   [The Stage as a temporary home : on Dzigan and Shumacher's theater, 1927-1980]. Jerusalem: Magnes, 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

cover hebrewThe Stage as a Temporary Home takes us through the fascinating stages in the life and career of the duo Shimen Dzigan and Isroel Shumacher, over the course of half a century - from the beginning of their work at the Ararat avant-garde Yiddish theater in Łodz, Poland, and to their Warsaw theater, where they produced bold, groundbreaking political satire. The book further discusses their wanderings through the Soviet Union during the Second World War and their attempt to revive Jewish culture in Poland after the Holocaust, and finally describes their arrival in Israel, first as guest performers and later as permanent residents. Despite the restrictions on Yiddish actors in Israel, the duo insisted on performing in their own language and succeeded in translating the new Israeli reality into unique and timely satire. In the 1950s, they voiced a political and cultural critique of a kind that was not heard on any of the Hebrew stages. After they parted ways, and following the death of Shumacher in 1961, Dzigan continued to perform on his own and with other Israeli artists until his death in 1980.

The book is based on rare recordings, transcriptions, programs, personal diaries, letters, photographs, oral testimonies, and critical articles, all of which come together to create the first critical portrait of this extraordinary duo. The book also examines their art, the connection between theater and politics, and the complex relationship between majority culture and minority language.

The study includes several valuable indexes: of titles of programs and plays, of the artists who participated in them, of writers and the drafts they wrote, of actors and the programs in which they participated, and a general name index. The book also includes a facsimile of the manuscript Der Nayer Dybbuk [The New Dybbuk].

 

 

Reviews of the book on Dzigan and Shumacher

Ruthie Abeliovich, Gal-Ed Journal, April 2021 [Hebrew]

Mihail Krutikov, "Dzigan and Shumacher: Actors on the Stage of Jewish Exile"The Yiddish Daily ForwardApril 2021.[Yiddish]

Ellen Presser, "Laurel und Hardy auf Jiddisch", Jüdische Allgemeine, 19.5.2021 [German]

Avrom Lichtenbaum, Entrevista con Diego Rotman, YIWO Radio, March 2021 [Spanish]

Vassili Schedrin, "DZIGAN AND SHUMACHER: BEFORE “CABARET” AND “SCHINDLER’S LIST.” AN INTERVIEW WITH DIEGO ROTMAN"The Theatre Times, September 2020
Adi Mahalel, East European Jewish Affairs, December 2019
Raphael Cohen Almagor, Tamar Hermann, Hanna Herzog, Sam Lehman-Wilzig, and Ruvi Ziegler, Israel Studies Review 34,  September 2019
Arieh Sover, Humor Mekuvan - Academic Online Journal of Humor Research 11, December 2018 [Hebrew]
Michal Zamir, Haaretz, July 2018 [Hebrew]
Hagai Hitron, Haaretz, June 2018 [Hebrew]
Yaad Biran, Haaretz, March 2018 [Hebrew]
Itay Zutra, The Jewish Post & NewsMarch 2018
Gabi Zohar, Radio 104.5, interviewing Diego Rotman, February 2018, [Hebrew]
Beni Mer"Diego Rotman Describes the Art of Dzigan and Shumacher"The Yiddish Daily Forward, June 2017, [Yiddish]

 

Launching Events

Susana Skura, Cynthya Gabbay, Diego Rotman, Launching event in Spanish, at Simania/LAJSA - Latin American Jewish Studies Association

Diego Rotman, Dr. Diego Rotman: "Di geshikhte fun nisht farbetene gest: Dzigan un Shumacher in Yisroel" (Scholem-Alejchem-Vortrag 2021) [Yiddish]

Zehavit Stern, Ruthi Abeliovich, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Elyakim Rubinstein, Shmulik Vircer-Atsmon, Launching of the book in Hebrew, Hansen House