INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

January 26, 2019 at 5:00 am

As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches, acclaimed actors Ed Asner and Tovah Feldshuh take us on a search for answers during mankind’s darkest hour in the play, “The Soap Myth.”

If you’d like to see the performance of “The Soap Myth,” please view all dates and links below:

Sunday, January 27th –
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 East Clinton Avenue, Tenafly, NJ
https://wizevents.com/register/landing.php?id=6467

Monday, January 28th –
Center at West Park, 164 W. 86th St @ Amsterdam Avenue, New York City
https://www.ticketcentral.com/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=FC409740-297E-4B21-83DF-3BF1850B6E2B

Tuesday, January 29th –
Suffolk JCC, 75 Hauppauge Road, Commack, NY 11725
http://syjcc.org/index.php/performing-arts/#special-performances

If you’d like to see more of six-time tony and emmy nominated star Tovah Feldshuh, she will also take the stage as Leona Helmsley in the “Tovah is Leona” at Feinstein’s/54 below on February 22, 23, 26 at 7pm. For more information click here!

Aired on January 26, 2019.

Transcript Print

>>> THE HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST
WHO HAS THE RIGHT AND THE
RESPONSIBILITY TO TELL IT?
IS IT PROFESSIONAL HISTORIANS
AND HOLOCAUST SCHOLARS OR THE
EYEWITNESSS TO THE HORROR?
THOSE WHO WERE THE DIRECT
VICTIMS OF THE BRUTALITY AND
SURVIVED IT?
THAT'S THE QUESTION POSED IN
JEFF COHN'S IN A PLAY BEING
PRESENTED AS A SERIES OF CONCERT
READINGS IN TRIBUTE TO
INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST
REMEMBRANCE DAY AND STARRING ED
ASNER AND HERE'S A LOOK.
>> WE HAVE MADE THE
DETERMINATION THAT --
>> YOU HAVE MADE THE
DETERMINATION --
>> IT'S NOT THE EVIDENCE
NECESSARY.
>> OH, HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE
DETERMINATION?
FOR 40 YEARS THERE WAS NO
QUESTION.
YOU WANT ANOTHER REASON I AM
COUNTING ON YOU, ANNIE?
>> YES.
>> BECAUSE SOON, I WILL BE GONE.
SOON ALL THE WITNESSES WILL BE
GONE.
>> JOINING US NOW ARE ED ASNER
AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
JOINING US TODAY.
SUCH AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU BOTH
HERE.
>> IT'S AN HONOR TO BE HERE.
>> THANK YOU.
I SAW THE PLAY YESTERDAY, BY THE
WAY.
WHEN YOU CALL IT A CONCERT
READING SOME PEOPLE MIGHT
MISUNDERSTAND THAT.
BECAUSE IT PACKS THE SAME
WALLOP, THE INTELLECTUAL AND
EMOTIONAL WALLOP THAT IF IT WAS
A FULLY STAGED PLAY.
I CAN'T SPEAK ENOUGH ABOUT IT.
BUT I'LL TRY IN THE NEXT FEW
MINUTES.
I SHOULD ADD YOU ARE TWO OF THE
FOUR CAST MEMBERS OF THIS PLAY.
>> YEAH.
>> AND THE OTHER TWO WHICH ARE
AS BRILLIANT AS YOU ARE, THEY
ARE LEYVA VINEBERG AND NED
EISENBERG.
>> IT'S THE BERG TWINS,
FABULOUS.
>> SO THE FIRST QUESTION TO YOU.
WHAT IS THE SOAP MYTH?
WHAT IS THE STORY AROUND WHICH
THE PLAY EVOLVED?
>> IT'S ABOUT THE NATURE OF
TRUTH AND THE VALUE OF TRUTH.
WE HAVE A WONDERFUL MAN IN THE
VERY GIFTED ED ASNER WHO'S HAD
AN EXPERIENCE THAT JEWISH FAT
WAS USED TO MAKE SOAP.
THAT IS HIS VISCERAL EXPERIENCE.
THAT IS HIS EXPERIENCE WITH THE
TRUTH.
THOSE -- HE HAS PHOTOGRAPHS OF
BURIALS WITH PIECES OF THE GREEN
SOAP MADE FROM JEWISH FAT.
>> FAT FROM HUMAN CADAVERS?
>> THAT'S THE ASSUMPTION.
I CAN TELL YOU, BORN IN THE '50s
IN MY CHILDHOOD I WAS TAUGHT
THAT WE WERE MADE INTO LAMP
SHADES AND THAT OUR FAT WAS
REDUCED TO MAKE INTO SOAP.
WHAT THE PLAY CALLS INTO
QUESTION IS WHETHER THERE IS A
COOPERATIVE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT
MILTON SALTSMAN'S CLAIMS AND THE
FACT FINDERS AND MUSEUMS FIND
THERE'S NO EVIDENCE --
>> HARD EVIDENCE.
>> TO PROVE THAT SOAP WAS MADE
FROM HUMAN FLESH.
THERE'S DNA ALL OVER SOAP FROM
MANUFACTURE TO HANDLING SO THIS
IS THE QUESTION.
HE WOULD LIKE THIS IN THE
PERMANENT EXHIBIT OF THE MUSEUM.
BUT THE MUSEUM EXECUTIVES LIKE
MYSELF, MUSEUM SCHOLARS, WON'T
ALLOW IT FOR FEAR THAT THE
ENTIRE MUSEUM WILL BE
DISCREDITED BECAUSE IT DOESN'T
HAVE ANY COB ATIVE PROOF.
>> ABOUT THE MURDERED VICTIMS OF
THE HOLOCAUST, THEIR BODIES
BEING USED TO CREATE THIS SOAP,
I PREPARED FOR THIS
CONVERSATION, I ASSUMED IT WAS A
FACT.
IT WAS A FACT FOR DECADES AND
THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF THIS
SHOW, HE WAS A SON OF A
SURVIVOR, HE THOUGHT IT WAS A
FACT.
DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT IT WAS A
CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE?
>> NO.
>> NO IDEA.
WE WERE TAUGHT THAT VERY
CLEARLY.
NOT JUST IN -- I WAS IN THE
CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT, BUT WITH
THE REFORMS -- I MEAN THIS IS
PART OF A JEWISH CHILD'S
KNOWLEDGE.
>> SO ED, YOU PLAY A MAN TO
PROVE THAT THE SOAP MYTH IS NO
MYTH.
>> AND WITH ED'S ABILITY, IT'S
JUST IMPOSSIBLE FOR ED ASNER TO
LIE.
>> YEAH.
>> WHEN HE'S ACTING.
HE'S JUST A TRUTH-O-METER.
SO THE EMPATHY HE ENGENDERS AND
HE'S STILL OPERATE ON ALL EIGHT
CYLINDERS IS AN INSPIRATION TO
ALL OF US.
MAY I BE AS CLEVER AND AS GIFTED
WHEN I APPROACH HIS AGE WHICH IS
VERY DIFFICULT BECAUSE I'M STILL
39.
39.
>> OH.
>> YOU PLAY TWO CHARACTERS IN
THE PLAY.
ONE IS KIND OF LIKE THE
BUREAUCRATIC UNSYMPATHETIC
HOLOCAUST SCHOLAR AND THE OTHER
ONE IS A CHARMING, SEDUCTIVE
HOLOCAUST DENIER.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THIS
PLAY?
>> I'M A SUCKER FOR A GREAT
PLAY.
>> AND A GREAT PART.
>> I DO ENOUGH OF THE OTHER
STUFF.
NO, BUT YOU GET A GREAT SCRIPT
IN YOUR HAND.
YOU DON'T CARE WHO -- YOU'RE
DOWN ON SKID ROW, YOU WANT TO BE
PART OF IT.
>> BY THE WAY, JEFF, THE AUTHOR
HAS WRITTEN THAT HE ACTUALLY
WROTE THE CHARACTER WITH YOU IN
MIND.
>> WHAT DOES HE KNOW?
>> BUT I MEAN, YOU TRAVELED
AROUND WITH THIS THING LIKE A
ROCK BAND.
I MEAN, IT'S NOT THAT EASY.
YOU WENT TO BALTIMORE.
YOU'RE TRAVELING ALL --
>> IT'S PRETTY INTENSE, BUT JEFF
IS AGAIN -- HE'S A MENSCH AND HE
TAKES GOOD CARE OF HIS COMPANY.
SO IT'S OKAY.
WE LOVE EACH OTHER.
MIND YOU, IT'S OUR JOB TO LOVE
EACH OTHER.
WE DO LOVE EACH OTHER.
OH, YOU, HERE WE GO.
>> WELL, AS YOU SAID, THE
ESSENTIAL QUESTION OF THE PLAY
IS, YOU KNOW, WHO GETS TO TELL
THE HISTORY AND WHO SHOULD WE
BELIEVE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED --
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN THE
HOLOCAUST?
THE SURVIVORS OR THE SCHOLARS?
I READ THE PLAY BEFORE I SAW IT
AND THE PLAY IS SO INTELLIGENT.
THAT THE ARGUMENTS ARE SO WELL
BALANCED.
YOU KNOW, THE AUTHOR DOESN'T
HELP YOU.
WHEN YOU SEE IT, BECAUSE YOU'RE
SO CAPTIVATING, YOU'RE
EMOTIONALLY -- YOU GO, THE
SURVIVORS YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE
THE SURVIVORS BUT THE ARGUMENTS
OF THE SCHOLARS ARE SO
COMPELLING.
AGAIN, YOU ARE LEFT TO YOUR OWN
DEVICES.
>> YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE THE
SURVIVOR AT WHAT COST?
THAT'S THE QUESTION.
IF IT'S AT THE COST OF TRUTH, IN
A MUSEUM THAT'S A BIG COST.
>> WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
>> MY ANSWER IS THIS.
THAT AS WE DISCUSSED HERE T
THAT -- DISCUSSED THE PEOPLE WHO
REACT AS IF THE SOAP WAS NOT A
MYTH AND TO MY KNOWLEDGE MOST
JEWS LIVE LIVES WHERE THEY
ACCEPTED IT AS TRUTH.
SO WHATEVER THE HISTORIANS ARE
SAYING IT'S FLYING AGAINST THE
WIND.
>> YEAH.
>> THEY'RE NOT BEING BELIEVED.
>> AT LEAST FOR IN GENERATION.
JEFF IS BRINGING UP IN FUTURE
GENERATIONS LIKE OUR EXPERIENCE
OF THE CIVIL WAR.
WHAT EXPERIENCE DO WE HAVE OF
THE CIVIL WAR?
I ONLY HAVE ONE IN HISTORY BOOKS
AND MY VISITING THE SOUTH.
SO THAT WAS JEFF'S FEAR AND HIS
WAY OF IMMORTALIZING THIS
ARGUMENT WITH MY WRITING --
WRITING THIS PLAY.
>> YOU KNOW, BUT THE POINT THAT
YOU MADE, THE ISSUE -- REALLY,
THE MAIN REASON WHY THE SCHOLARS
HAVE QUESTIONED THIS SOAP STORY
IS BECAUSE THE DENIERS ARE USING
IT.
GENERALLY BECAUSE THEY SAY IF WE
DON'T HAVE HARD PROOF ABOUT ONE
THING, THE DENIERS WILL SAY, YOU
KNOW, THEY'RE MAKING THIS UP.
YOU KNOW, THEY CAN'T PROVE THIS.
THEY'RE MAKING THIS UP.
IF THEY'RE MAKING THIS UP,
THEY'RE MAKING EVERYTHING UP.
BUT IF YOU USE THAT AS THE
ARGUMENT, THAT THE DENIERS WILL
USE IT TO DISCREDIT THE WHOLE
HOLOCAUST STORY, THEN YOU'RE
ABDICATING THE POWER TO
DETERMINE WHAT WE'RE GOING TO
TALK ABOUT ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST
TO THE DENIERS AND THAT IS
MADDENING.
IT'S A REAL CONCERN.
RIGHT?
>> THAT IS CORRECT.
>> SO THE WAY YOU PLAY MILTON,
IT'S LIKE -- OH, MY GOODNESS.
IT'S LIKE A FRIGHTENING -- I
CAN'T EXPLAIN IT.
BUT IT'S SO EMOTIONAL.
IS IT ALL ABOUT PROVING THAT
THIS MYTH IS NOT A MYTH OR IS
THERE SOMETHING GOING ON WITH
MILTON AS HE ENGAGES IN THIS
CRUSADE?
>> I DO IT AS -- WHERE THE TOP
OF MY PROFESSION I COULD
INVESTIGATE MILTON AND FIND THAT
HE HAS CHOSEN THIS AS A MEANS OF
LEAVING HIS MARK IN THE WORLD.
THAT HIS LIFE WILL MEAN
SOMETHING.
TO PROVE THAT SOAP WAS MADE FROM
FAT AND THAT'S A GOOD ENOUGH
REASON.
>> YEAH.
>> TO FAIL IS ALSO NOT
SURPRISING.
>> UNFORTUNATELY OUR TIME IS UP,
BUT I HAVE TO SAY TO EVERYONE
OUT THERE WHO HAS THE
OPPORTUNITY TO WATCH THIS PLAY I
USUAL YOU TO GO SEE IT.
YOU HAVE TO SEE IT.
IT WOULD BE A TRAGEDY IF YOU
DON'T.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING
US.
>> THANK YOU.
>>> FOR THE ENTIRE SCHEDULE AND
LOCATIONS FOR "THE SOAP MYTH
READINGS" YOU CAN GO TO OUR

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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