My friend Michael Wex has read pretty much every book worth reading, and plenty, I'm sure, that weren't. About 14 years ago he recommended I read The Adventures of One Yitzchok by Yitzchok Perlov. And of course, I did. I enjoyed it so much that I then lent it to a friend whom I knew would like it just as much. And then, as these things often go, the book was never seen again. Happily, I picked up another copy last week and am re-reading it right now. The Adventures of One Yitzchok is just as funny and touching as I remembered.
Yitzchok Perlov was a writer for the Yiddish theater whose muse was his wife, Lola Folman, for whom he wrote many songs and shows. The Adventures of One Yitzchok is a memoir of his time as a Polish evacuee to Central Asia. (Many Polish Jews, like Perlov and Folman, found themselves in the USSR after the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact and its partition of Poland. When war broke out between Germany and the USSR in 1941, many of those Jews continued to move east and found safety in exotic places like Baku and Tashkent.) Beautiful, talented, beloved Lola, of course, is a major character in the book.
And it's Lola who made me pick up The Adventures once again. Via the magic of Facebook, I found out that Lola Folman was the aunt of one of my favorite people, Yiddish teacher extraordinaire, Paula Teitelbaum. Not only that, but thanks to my other favorite people at the Congress for Jewish Culture, we can now hear Lola Folman sing, digitized off a 78 record from the collection of the grande dame of the New York Yiddish theater, Mina Bern.
Lola Folman sings "Di Shadkhnte" (The Matchmaker) from Congress for Jewish Culture on Vimeo.
....א וועלט מיט וועלטלעך