For Immediate Release
Abe Cohen, 212.494.0050
Get the Racist Lyman Out!
The Jewish Theater of New York deeply deplores the continuous belligerence and shameful racism exhibited by Mr. Rick Lyman, Theater Desk Editor of The New York Times, toward our theater.
In March of this year, only a day after Mr. Lyman assumed his position as theater editor, he barred Times’ critics from visiting our show LAST JEW IN EUROPE. For the first time in eleven years, a production mounted by The Jewish Theater of New York was not to be reviewed by the Times. Initially, Mr. Lyman claimed that no critic wanted to see this show. That proved to be a petty lie after our Artistic Director, Mr. Tuvia Tenenbom, personally called some of the critics and they told him that they would love to see the show but Mr. Lyman wouldn’t allow them to do so. When asked for comments by various news organizations, such as the New York Post and others, the culture department of the Times changed the story: it wasn’t the critics who didn’t want to see the show but rather the Times’ editors’ decision to “take a pass” at that one time. In an email sent to the media, and responding to the Jewish Theater’s accusation that such a decision amounted to a boycott by the Times, Mr. Sam Lifton, the culture editor, said: “The New York Times has by no means decided not to review shows put on by The Jewish Theater of New York.”
Well, that was in March. Now it’s October.
The Jewish of New York, due to repeated requests by members of the Jewish community to see the show, has mounted LAST JEW IN EUROPE again--and this time in a totally new production and under completely new direction. And again, the Times was invited. Once more, the Times’ theater department response was: “No critic wants to see the LAST JEW.” When confronted by Mr. Tenenbom that critics actually wanted to see the LAST JEW, Mr. Tenenbom was told by Ms. Oconor of the theater department: “This is the answer I was told to give you. It’s not in my hands.” For a moment there, Mr. Tenenbom thought that he wasn’t in the US of A but in Cuba or Burma.
The message by the theater department is obviously clear: LAST JEW IN EUROPE, a show that documents the alarming increase of anti-Semitism in Europe, will not be reviewed by the Times. Period. Since Mr. Rick Lyman doesn’t care about the Jews, nobody else should care as well.
If this is not shameful censorship, we don’t know what is. And for a paper that prides itself for having an open mind, this is a narrow mind of extremity and a total disgrace.
LAST JEW IN EUROPE, which uses advance forms of theater-making (most of the show takes place in the audience section, to cite one example), is deemed not worthy of Times readers to know about. It must be kept a secret. That’s a lesson in democracy, coming to you straight from the new school of Mr. Rick Lyman--a dictator in the making.
The fact that a big percentage of the Times’ readers are Jewish, people who care deeply about issues of rising anti-Semitism, seems to bother no Lymans of the world.
We urgently call on the powers that be at The New York Times to immediately distance themselves from the disgrace called Rick Lyman. Failure to stop this racist will mean that the Times stands behind his shameful deeds. And if it does, it’s time to boycott the Times itself. Preaching for anti-discrimination while practicing discrimination against the only English-speaking Jewish theater company in New York, sounds hypocritical to every person of sound mind. Targeting this show in this way is nothing short of dumb elitist racism.
The Jewish Theater of New York
PS: For follow-up release, press HERE.