INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

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

> 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 WEBSITE.

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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