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PRESS RELEASES


THEODORE BIKEL, BARBARA KIRSHENBLATT GIMBLETT TO RECEIVE THIRD ANNUAL MLOTEK PRIZE FOR YIDDISH AND YIDDISH CULTURE

For Immediate Release THEODORE BIKEL, BARBARA KIRSHENBLATT GIMBLETT TO RECEIVE THIRD ANNUAL MLOTEK PRIZE FOR YIDDISH AND YIDDISH CULTURE

The renowned actor, folk-singer and social activist Theodore Bikel, and the noted author, scholar and speaker, Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt Gimblett have been chosen by the Mlotek Family Foundation to receive the 2008 Joseph Mlotek Memorial Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture. The award will be given to the honorees at the 3rd Annual Joseph Mlotek Memorial Program, to be held on Monday, May 19, 2008, 6:00 p.m. at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, NYC. The theme of the evening will be Israel's 60th anniversary, and there will be a special artistic presentation in tribute to the Jewish State based on a program created by the late Yiddish scholar and activist Joseph Mlotek.

Theodore Bikel is a beloved icon of American and international folk-music, an actor, speaker, and a passionate advocate for multiple causes dear to his heart. Born in Vienna in 1923, Bikel was raised in a progressive, Yiddish speaking environment. When he was 13 his family moved to Palestine, where he began an artistic journey that would lead him to the pinnacle of success in theater, film, television, recordings, concerts, and radio. Theodore Bikel's genre-defining recordings of Yiddish folksongs since the 1950's have contributed tremendously to their preservation and dissemination.

Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is University Professor in the Department of Performance Arts at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York University. She is the award winning author of numerous books that illuminate the experience of Jews in Eastern Europe between the two World Wars, including the most recent They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust, with Mayer Kirshenblatt (University of California Press, 2007), and the widely praised bestseller Image Before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland Before the Holocaust, with Lucjan Dobroszycki (New York: Schocken, reissue 1995). Her books and essays have covered a wide range of topics, touching on history, and the arts.

The evening will honor the memory of the late Joseph "Yosl" Mlotek who, throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, played a pivotal role in preserving and fostering the legacy of Yiddish culture in Jewish communities worldwide. Mlotek came of age during the 1930's as a young editor and poet in bustling secular Yiddish cultural milieu of pre-World War II Warsaw After spending much of World War II in Shanghai, China, Mlotek made his way to North America, and ultimately to New York, where he immediately assumed a leadership role in the Yiddish schools and cultural institutions. He was a teacher, author, poet, journalist, anthologist and charismatic speaker whose professional positions as Education Director of The Workmen's Circle, and Managing Editor of the Jewish Forward, gave him the platform to lead an international movement of Yiddish cultural activists. As Education Director of The Workmen's Circle, he served as executive producer of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater for several decades.

The program will include a talk by each honoree, that will draw from the legacy of Yosl Mlotek.

The concert portion of the evening, musically directed by Zalmen Mlotek, will consist of a performance of a script honoring Israel that Yosl Mlotek had prepared as Education Director of The Workmen's Circle, performed by the noted Yiddish concert artists Robert Abelson, Phyllis Berk and Adrienne Cooper.