Manger Street is a ‘crook’ of a street in North Tel Aviv, the kind of street you find only when you’re looking for something else – perfect for our Yiddish-speaking prankster Itzik Manger.
Born in Chernovitz in 1901, Itzik Manger was kicked out of school and into Yiddish theater. He reset the Bible story of Esther in contemporary Eastern Europe, casting a tailor (his father’s profession) as the hero, in his most scandalous and popular literary work: The Songs of the Megillah. Manger claimed of his story, “When a tailor tells it, it’s told as it ought to be told.”
In 1938 Manger left Warsaw, where he had spent a happy ten years at the epicenter of Yiddish culture, for Paris. From there he went to Marseilles, to Nice, then Liverpool and finally London. After 11 years in London Manger had become a British citizen, but in 1959 he made aliyah and spent the rest of his life in Israel. Manger managed to break through Israel’s pro-Hebrew bias into the mainstream with his Yiddish tales, and counted Golda Meir among his supporters.
The Songs of the Megillah (The Broadway production)
Karsten Troyke and Claudia Koch – Oyfn Veg Shteyt A Boym
Photo: Itzik Manger