Yiddish Theater Ensemble Presents: Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, 1906 play directed by Bruce Bierman

Synchronized Chaos is sharing a notice about this upcoming virtual theater show and will review it after opening night.

Naomi Newman, Reb Eli and Roni Alperin

Yiddish Theatre EnsemblePresents… God of Vengeance (Got Fun Nekome)

An artful online video adaptation of Sholem Asch’s groundbreaking 1906 Yiddish play

Directed by Bruce Bierman / English translation by Caraid O’Brien

Streaming Saturday, March 20 thru Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Tickets ($18 – $54): klezcalifornia.org/yiddish-theatre-ensemblewww.Eventbrite.com

Berkeley, CA… The Yiddish Theatre Ensemble (YTE) planned on presenting the English language translation of the 1906 controversial Yiddish play God of Vengeance (Got Fun Nekome) by Sholem Asch in September 2020 at a theater in Berkeley, California but had to halt production due to the pandemic. Dedicated to this endeavor, YTE devised an innovative approach to presenting theater during this unprecedented time. The play will now be mounted on Vimeo on March 20-23, 2021 as an artful video adaptation with actors from around the country. Due to COVID restrictions, the actors were rehearsed and filmed on Zoom in full character and costume from their respective locations.  (The cast was never actually in the same room together).

The multi-cultural, multi-generational and diverse LGBTQ cast of 17 actors, many of whom had never spoken a word of Yiddish before, comes from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond (New York and Las Vegas) and includes nonagenarian veteran of stage, Naomi Newman, co-founder of The Traveling Jewish Theater. Local Treasure Naomi Newman: 90 Years Old and Still Acting

As the play has been re-set in New York’s Lower East Side during the Depression, digital set designs (or backdrops) were added creating the 1930’s atmosphere with a distinct graphic novel style. The sets, designed by Production Designer, Jeremy Knight, of West Edge Opera, are inspired by photographs courtesy of the Tenement Museum collection with period costumes coordinated by Wardrobe Consultant, Suzanne Stassevich, formerly of San Francisco Opera. The play will be enhanced by an original score, by San Francisco Bay Area Klezmer musician, David Rosenfeld, anchoring the emotional voice of this evocative family drama. 

This adaptation based on the English translation (but including some Yiddish language and idioms) by Caraid O’Brien stays close to the script with new interpretations of character portrayals and plot development. Themes explored include: issues of domestic violence, dignity and portrayal of sex workers, freedom of expression and acceptance of LGBTQ relationships. As with many of Asch’s plays, powerful female characters give voice and agency to women. The themes speak directly to the inequities of human and civil rights still being fought for today. The play is peppered with humor.

Jill Eickmann-Soreh, Roni Alperin-Yankel, Simon Winheld-Shlomo, Esther Mulligan-Hindl


God of Vengeance tells the story of a seemingly observant Jewish couple and their daughter Rivkeleh who live upstairs in their Lower East Side apartment during the Great Depression. Yankl and Soreh do their best to protect their only child from mixing with their bustling livelihood—a thriving ‘brothel’ business downstairs in the basement. Rivkeleh is at a marriageable age and plans for a future husband are being made.  She is ensured an attractive dowry when her father commissions a Torah scroll, worth thousands, to be written just for her.  Supposedly, the hand-written scroll is believed to protect her and keep her kosher. Meanwhile young Rivkeleh has fallen in love with Mankeh, one of his prostitutes and a tender relationship blossoms. Tensions mount and soon life upstairs and downstairs begin to entangle. As Yankl’s plans are threatened, he begins to unravel.

The themes of this play are deep and resonate today: can money buy salvation, happiness, holiness? All are explored in this family drama story that has extraordinary tenderness, elements of Greek drama —and a bisl (little) Yiddish. — Laura Sheppard, Producer

Audiences should know this is not, God forbid, a moralistic play! Sholem Asch himself said he didn’t care if he wrote a moral or immoral play. He only cared about writing a good play that had an impact and spoke to people. — Bruce Bierman, Director

Elena Faverio-Rivkel, Zissel Piazza-Mankeh


After the play’s opening in Berlin, God of Vengeance had tremendous success throughout Europe and was translated into many languages. Upon arriving in New York, it was first seen in Yiddish at the Provincetown Playhouse in the West Village. The 1923 production in English at the Apollo Theatre in New York was the first to portray a lesbian relationship in a sympathetic light and included the first lesbian kiss on Broadway. That production was assailed by members of the religious and cultural establishment and was charged with obscenity and shut down. The producer and company members were arrested and found guilty.

The history of Asch and this play was inspiration for the 2015-2017 Tony award-winning Broadway production Indecent which was also seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for which Director Bruce Bierman served as Yiddish Dance Dramaturge. This production only scratched the surface of the original play. Yiddish Theatre Ensemble would like audiences to experience the power of the characters and immediacy today. Yiddish Theatre Ensemble is particularly interested in Sholem Asch because he was the first playwright to incorporate modernity into his plays, mirroring 20th century life in cities and towns rather than focusing on Biblical stories or folk tales of the past.


Sholem Asch (1880–1957). Although he penned several of his 18 plays, shorts stories and novels in the US on New York City’s Lower East Side and at his home in Staten Island, Asch wrote only in Yiddish. Asch is often mentioned in the same breath as other modern Yiddish fiction writers like Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz. The Polish-born author and playwright is the first Yiddish writer to be widely translated into English and to gain worldwide renown, and to have a bestseller in English (The Nazarene). The star literary contributor of the Yiddish newspaper, The Forward (Forverts) from 1915-1940 was the most widely reported and caricatured writer in the Yiddish press from 1915-1950.


Laura Sheppard, Producerand Bruce Bierman, Director, have collaborated for twelve years to create community-based productions in affiliation with fiscal sponsor KlezCalifornia. Their collaborations include the popular Yiddish musical Di Megileh of Itzik Manger, produced as part of the Jewish Music Festival (2014, 2015), as well as KlezCalifornia’s Cabaret by the Bay. Yiddish Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to producing the rich, rarely performed repertory of the Yiddish theater as well as new works by living artists.

This production is part of the 40th Anniversary of the Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, MA), the nation’s acclaimed center for the preservation of Yiddish literature and culture and their Year of Translation. This production is fiscally sponsored by KlezCalifornia and supported in part by a Civic Arts Grant from the City of Berkeley.

CAST/LEAD ACTORS (See attached bios): Roni Alperin –Yankl | Jill Eickmann – Soreh | Elena Faverio – Rivkeleh | Zissel Piazza – Mankeh | Simon Winheld – Shlomo | Esther Mulligan – Hindl | Naomi Newman – Reb Eli | Josiah Prosser – A Scribe | Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh – Basha | Frances Sedayao – Rayzel

Synchronized Chaos February 2021: Polish and Refine

Announcement: Our March issue of Synchronized Chaos will be an ekphrastic issue, where we encourage you to create written work inspired by some other art form (a piece of music, a painting or graphic image, a sculpture, etc). Here’s an article that outlines what ekphrastic writing is and gives some examples.

Our co-editor, Kahlil Crawford, and I believe this will inspire and encourage fresh ideas and be a fun experiment. So please send ekphrastic submissions our way at synchchaos@gmail.com before February 27th and they will go in the issue!

Welcome all to Synchronized Chaos’ February issue, ‘Polish and Refine.’ This month, each of our many and varied contributors takes some sort of thought or experience and turns it over in their mind, rendering it into a piece of craft.

Varied assortment of people of varying genders and races dressed up for work, standing in front of a bulletin board with pens, commenting on something.

D.S. Maolalai charms the little afternoon dramas of everyday life – squirrels in the park, remodeling the kitchen – into poetry. Joan Beebe laments the enforced stillness of her socially distanced winter suburban neighborhood, while J.K. Durick evokes the way grey winter days can merge and flow into one another.

Susie Gharib turns human venality, decay, and even dental malpractice into elegant verse, and Shelby Stephenson reviews Sherry Siddall’s Sweet Land, the poetry collection of a writer who loves language.

Mahbub covers diverse subject matter: wonderment and horror at the power of the Covid-19 virus, the power of intellectual community and literary inspiration, and symbiotic growth in nature. Ike Boateng also writes poetry on the community we find enjoying and sharing the gifts of nature, cocoa among them.

White woman with dark hair and a blue dress bent over in thought, with a book under her arm. She's in a misty forest with some trees which have leaves and others which don't.

Eva Lianoy illustrates in a folktale how care for a delicate flower transforms a carpenter’s life, and Ahmad Al-Khatat mourns a love that makes his speaker forget the war all around him. Norman J. Olson reminisces on the uncommon kindness and humor of a professional he admires, while Jake Cosmos Aller encourages kindness towards the homeless and expresses dismay at the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville.

Elizabeth Hughes reviews David Myles Robinson’s legal drama Tropical Doubts in her monthly Book Periscope column.

J.D. Nelson experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory, while Jack Galmitz contributes a set of wry, random ramblings and J.J. Campbell expresses his loathing of racism while writing of aging, loneliness and death.

Fuzzy image of far-off trees made brighter and clear through the lens of glasses on a wooden table.

Rikki Santer’s poems burst forth with nostalgia and lush worldbuilding.

In the same spirit, Mark Young contributes paintings that reveal more about the effects of line and color on our psyches than literal subjects.

Some pieces address politics: Michael Robinson evokes the horror of the Capitol attack for a Black person in America, John Most crafts a satirical version of Amazing Grace inspired by Donald Trump, Patricia Doyne protests the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol while Arthur Ford’s shanty decries the same event.

Michael Robinson speaks to the Black male experience in the United States, inspired by Amanda Gorman’s reading at the U.S. presidential inauguration.

Lorena Caputo elegizes lives lost to the Contra fighters decades ago in Nicaragua, while Coco Kiju declares the doomsday of a dead love.

Person holds beads on a bracelet over a refining tool to polish them, in a black and white sepia photo.

Chimezie Ihekuna renders the Biblical tale of Lucifer’s rebellion and expulsion from Heaven as a fantasy tale, while Hongri Yuan creates a heavenly vision of orderly, glistening orchards and cities in a world that began before humanity came on the scene and will continue long afterwards.

Jeff Bagato writes of our human strength and of nature’s resilience, while I RΛM 0 opines about humanity’s joining with artificial intelligence to co-create the next stage in evolution.

Stephen Williams presents a psychological odyssey through fear, condemnation, grace, and liberation.

John Culp celebrates the joy of getting your heart and mind focused and open to positivity and learning.

Thank you very much for reading Synchronized Chaos! We encourage you to leave comments for our contributors, they appreciate feedback and discussion.

Poetry from Mahbub

Middle aged South Asian man with glasses and combed black hair and a white collared shirt

A Valentine’s Affection

It was Valentine’s afternoon

Just before the Arts Faculty Gate of Dhaka University

While walking towards the Dhaka Book Fair

The couple standing face to face

And thousands were running and walking around them

The eyes of the girl wet in eye drops

No sooner had my eyes blinked on the second time

The girl in the flower round her head

Slapped him on two times

And again repeatedly

Then her boyfriend getting nothing to say or doing

In his bewilderment he stopped for a while

And blew a big slap on her face

From beside their another friend came in

Turned them away and walked to the other

The two young boys passing me

Went away saying and laughing

“O Ma, What I looked!”

“O Ma, What I heard!”

NAEM Hostel, Dhaka,


How to Write

It stops my breath standing on the long line to pass the gate

In such a jam-packed condition

I turn back myself whether I am Ok or not

In this huge gathering my body sometimes gets twitched and switched off

It is as if the whole people of the world were joining one by one

In this Dhaka Book Fair the young and the old,

The boys and the girls like the flock of birds flying from here to there

Again like the swarm of bees

Getting together they like to meet each other in the Book Stalls

Not a single face I can recognize here

But the faces and the eyes glitter before me

I see the stars in the sky

I see the stars before me

Walking alone all the way

To save the moment in ray

I bought a book about ‘How to Write.’

NAEM Hostel, Dhaka,



What is the interaction between plants and animals?

We, the teachers and the students

Interact in the classroom

Outside the classroom

Engaged in same as the ecological balance

With the attentive mind following the eye contact

The learning outcome compared to the transpiration process

A touching relationship throughout the whole life

Sharing ideas and thoughts like oxygen and carbon dioxide

One leaves and the other receives

What a wonderful physiological growth!

Exchanging life to each other

Throughout a magnifying glass

Spreads its range of love and respect as the day advances more.


Covid 19

I think of what I write

No subject or field I find that I cultivate

So many subjects to work with

But no more speed my hands over

Stand still face to face we realize

What it actually happens in Wuhan City of China?

And gradually the whole earth mesmerized

By inhaling – exhaling breath

By sneezing and loving hands spread death

I am now confined to bed or home, walk round the walls

Try to be safe from this virus

O life – dark and death

Beauty goes so far tight in the abyss of thought and anxiety

Body shakes, heart gets barred suffocating breath

Eyes burns to the long line deaths in the world’s hospitals.

Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh


The Corona Island

The world has turned into a single Island

Or a no man’s land

A swarm of bee

People would run through too much busy

How does it look now?

You can say a ghostly one

Miles after miles the roads are like —-

T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

The smoggy, lurid streets of the modern city

Thwarts at him “Overwhelming questions”

Losing in thought to express the nature of his crisis

All offices, schools, colleges or universities go off

Only a few while necessary out

People are like the birds shot

Try to fly out but scared 

Ever and anon

We like to obey the rules of isolation.

Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh


Poem from Arthur Ford

INSURRECTION!                               January 12,2021

(January 6, 2021)


That insurrection

Was not a resurrection

For it took five lives away,

We’re a land of laws

Not window-climbing claws

Led by, a tyrant’s dismay.

One stupid led “the stupids”


Unfound conspiracies and lies

Brazing malignant hopes

Dead flags and ropes

And constitutional spies!!

He “flew the coup”

Before “Lady Liberty” could scoop

And push the truth down his foaming mouth,

He thinks he’s wanted

But his future is very haunted

In the bayous of the deep, deep south.

Now, the lesson to be learned

Is our concern

That America don’t quit, but quotes:

          “We’re a poor man’s land

          Seeking chances to advance

          And our powers are in, our votes.”

BY: Arthur C. Ford, Sr., poet/lyricist, editor of “The Pen”(of Pgh., PA.)

Copyright, A.C.Ford, Sr., 2021

BIO-SKETCH OF Arthur C. Ford,Sr.

Arthur C. Ford,Sr., was born and bred in New Orleans,LA.. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Southern University in New Orleans, where he also studied creative writing and was a member of the Drama Society. He performed the lead role in Ossie Davis’s “Purlie Victorious.”

          He has visited 45 states in America and resided for 2 years in Brussels, Belgium(Europe).His poetry(lyrics) and prose have been published throughout America, Canada,etc. He travelled for 30 days(July,2011) to various cities in the country of India.

          He presently resides in Pittsburgh,PA., and continues to write and publish a quarterly poetry newsletter called “The Pen”(http://thepoetbandcompany.yolasite.com(Click on guidelines at the top of the page).

Poetry from Jeff Bagato

A Rattle of Hooves

Teeth betray tongue whenever they can,

biting back twisted words

and forcing some mumbles through

a thin-lipped smile

Security has a tough job

when betrayal comes from within;

those passwords stored under a keyboard

can crumble the cookie without tearing the wrap

Get in the game like teeth

and chew chew chew

when the steak comes early;

any dead cow will do,

run by the fire and chopped

so fine you can’t tell the burger

from the bone; a little salt,

a pinch of cracked black pepper

is all the recipe you need

The cows line up and dance in review:

a cancan kick, a little twerk or a twist,

just enough rattle of hooves

to beat out a fanfare;

the bovine disco is the place to be

after the slaughterhouse

and before the plate;

the chef’s surprise can’t be described on any menu—

the chuck, the ribeye, the rump,

they swing, they swizzle, they prance,

while over the loudspeaker

comes a great noise—

the market’s red roar

and the songs of the blind

Towel Museum

A museum

of hotel towels

plucked off housekeeping

carts, smuggled

across country in luggage,

still clean and folded;

shelved in the house,

row by row

as if vacation

never ended

The Fuel That Silenced Suns

Lit up like a sunflower orgy,

an old tree itself becomes neon,

a thing of light sending terror down

on anyone who footfalls below;

the sidewalk takes precious

real estate where roots should be,

a figment of a pride-worn

civilization that already bears

too much; melted down, that pride’s

an acid dissolving concrete, metal

and glass, all the carapace materials

soft flesh prefers; seeds

are sent out as foot soldiers

to build barriers against

the rising tides, sacrificing

many to save few, but old

wood must survive to teach

and build and seed another day,

enriching earth with fallen leaf

and fallen bough, and renting

space to half the world—those beetles,

ants and birds who move soil

and sky as if every day was a new

discovery, not another chance

to smother, to burn, to break

those miracles and exchange

their shards, their ash for one

second bathed in the toxic rays

of artificial neon suns; that fire

remains cold for all its false light,

and the fuel consumed by hydra mouths

tastes bitter in the backwash

The Backhoe Theory

Anyway you look

the stones could scream;

wind and rain take their toll

on the hardest skin

Weather does not befriend walls

but pushes gently until

an escape is made;

then go the rats, the goats—

the water, the earth follow

more slowly, at their ease,

enjoying freedom all the same

Soon nothing holds up shields

against the sun, beating down

with fists of heat.

These batteries test a city’s will

to survive the stronger trials

made by residential man,

who erodes the life of mountains

as he builds new ones

just to test their strength against a fall

Man the maker remains a beast

using machines to push his weight

against any obstacle he chooses;

he will not go around, but through

with a bore, with a tunnel,

with dynamite, showing nature

how the pupil surpasses the master,

celebrating the temporary joys

of power plays that prove

the weakness of strength alone

The Dead No Longer Know

Ouija has writer’s block

when someone grabs hold

without a thought

or some sick interference

cancels out the other world;

can’t be thinking about pizza and beer

when channelling voices from beyond;

can’t think about getting

that D or that P,

that SUV or BMW

Ouija doesn’t write copy

for admen or CEOs;

you can’t think about politics

or religion or the KKK;

Ouija won’t write hate

for all the bronze horsemen

trotting the USA

There’s a code of conduct

in the spirit world,

having shed the day to day

tribal mind rooted in a past

the dead no longer know

A writer and artist based in San Antonio, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. His published books include Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.wordpress.com.

Poetry from Coco Kiju


“Hey, it’s me again,” you say.
And you bring me a bouquet.
But I don’t wanna talk to you today.
‘Cause I don’t got nothing to say.

But you don’t care, do you?

You were always telling me to stay away.
From your path, you forced me to stray.
I had to smile and pretend I was okay.
But you come back around when you wanna play.

You think it’s a game, don’t you?

You haven’t replied to my text since last May.
And now you tell me you’re here to stay.
But lemme tell you something, it’s not okay.
To abruptly start acting like I’m your bae.

You already know that, don’t you?

You wanna talk you say.
And I’m like “Okay sure. You may.”
But make it quick and be on your way.
‘Cause life’s got no buttons for replay.

You must be wishing that it did, aren’t you?

But here’s the fact that you can’t gainsay.
Our love’s dead and starting to decay.
And you know I like nothing less than a gourmet.
So you better leave without further delay.

You would’ve done the same to me, wouldn’t you?

I don’t wanna dance no more ballet.
For you in the back alley.
Is it sad? Well, hell yeah.
But what can I say?

Darling, it’s doomsday.

Surakshya Kiju, a.k.a. Coco, is a 23-years-old girl who is passionate about writing. She is a blogger at Poems From Heart, where she pours her heart out, laying bare her emotions as she portrays the world through her eyes. Her poems—which range from rhymes to sonnets—have been published in literary magazines like Cambridge Hall Poetry Journal. Each day, she strives for self-improvement, even as she inspires others through her own poetry. Please check out her blog at : www.poemsfromheartcom.wordpress.com

Essay from Norman J. Olson

Blue pencil Picasso-esque drawing of shapes that resemble abstract human faces and torsos. One figure has their hand up over their eyes.

Back in the early 2000s, I was publishing lots of poetry…  for several years, I tried to write and submit 3 poems a day, five days a week…  I would send these compositions to different literary journals all over the world…  the print journals were just being supplanted by the on line journals in those days, so I was still collecting boxes of contributors’ copies… one journal that liked my work was published in Louisiana and edited by a professor of English there… 

a literary conference scheduled by an organization that I knew nothing about was held very year…  this conference was scheduled for various institutions in the USA and Canada and was a place where professors of English could meet and present their papers on subjects like, “symbolism in Wordsworth from a post feminist prospective,” or “new French cinema as an heir of DADA…”  I had a MA degree, but had never been a real academic, so did not know anything about these conferences…  this conference decided to add some poetry from non academic sources and the editor from Louisiana had some say in that, and invited me to be one of the non academic poets participating…  instead of presenting a paper, the poets would read some of their published poetry…  I had always said that I would gladly read my poetry in public if anybody ever asked me to, so I agreed to do this and was pretty pumped about it in fact…  my wife was working at the airline, so, I could travel on employee passes and so cheaply get to whatever city the conference was being held in…  I learned that most of the participants, including most of the poets, were academics, i.e. professors of English and/or creative writing, and had money from their department to pay for the travel to these conventions…  but, having no such resource, I was on my own…

I attended four or five of these conferences…  I would fly to the city, check in with all the professors and then show up at the room to read my poems to a few of the professors who had chosen to attend the session that I was part of…  seldom was the audience more than ten and on one occasion, I remember, I think it was in St. Louis, nobody showed up except the poets who were reading so we read for each other, kind of a pointless activity I guess, but that is how the poetry world swings… 

anyway, one year, sorry I do not remember which year exactly, the conference was in Toronto…  I got my name tag and made it to my session…  I was surprised to find that some of the people in attendance were people who’s names I recognized from journals we had been published together in…  among them was Gerald Locklin…  I introduced myself to Locklin and he introduced me to several other well known small press poets and publishers…  as usual, I was very nervous about reading my poetry in public, but, they all seemed to like my very dramatic reading style and so the whole thing was, I thought, pretty successful…  I had brought some drawings and paintings to set up on stage as a backdrop to my reading…  after the reading, Locklin, his wife, and the others were planning on going to the Natural History Museum…  they invited me to join them…  I don’t remember how much the admission to the museum was, but I remember that it seemed to me to be more than I wanted to spend, so I told them that and declined…  but Locklin offered to pay for me, so I joined them and went to the museum… 

then, after listening to some of the others read at a later session, I left to head back to Minnesota…  in thanks for Locklin paying my way to the museum and for the kindness he showed including me, a relatively unknown poet/artist with the group of well known poets, I gave him a drawing…  I never really had any other contact with Locklin after that, and I came to regret giving him the drawing because, I came to believe that it was one of my very best works… oh well, done is done…

Locklin’s poetry was not like mine at all and his reading was very different from mine as well…  where my reading was dramatic and serious, his was conversational and light hearted…  he said he like to do a song and dance at those readings so he could say it was the same old song and dance…  and in fact, he did sing something and did a strange kind of shuffling dance…  I never had been a huge fan of his poetry, but after meeting him, I realized that his poetry was like his personality, surprisingly sophisticated filled with wit and willingness to not take the world too seriously… 

I just read today on Facebook, that Gerald Locklin died January 17, 2021, from Covid 19 complications…  I was very sorry to hear about that…  I’m sure he was a wonderful professor because he seemed such a basically decent human being and the interest he took in me and my work certainly felt genuine…  he was successful in a way that few from the poetry world are and even if we never became close, I always liked the idea that he was out there at California State University Long Beach and USC keeping it real…  RIP Mr. Locklin you were a fine poet and a kind, unpretentious and helpful person…