David S. Lifson

I first visited to New York City in February, 1975 mainly or only f or meeting David S. Lifson who was a scholar of the New York Yiddish theater. At the time, I was so interested in the influential relationship of the Yiddish t heatre to Franz Kafka in the 1910s, Prague. My interest in this influence was in itiated by Klaus Wagenbach's "monomaniac" biography on young Kafka, FRANZ KAF KA EINE BIOGRAPHIE SEINER JUGEND 1883-1912, Francke Verlag, 1958. I read it in the mid-60s. It explained me why Kafka in his diary wrote a lot about the Yiddish stages that he saw in Prague and also about his friendship with Jizchak Löwy, the chief of the Yiddish theater group. In 1971, my vague conviction was confirmed by Evelyn Torton. Beck's great book Kafka and the Yiddish Theater, The University of Wisconsin Press. This book traced Kafka's Yiddish theater experience based on the Yiddish documents that could prove what kinds of productions and works Kafk a saw. This book was so instructive for me who was unable to access to the Yiddi sh document. Also, the bibliography of this book let me have doors open to the n ew worlds. Among a few English references, I found the title Yiddish Theater in America by David. S. Lifson.

Meanwhile, I learned that Yiddish productions still remained in New York. I had been aware that there used to be many Yiddish theaters in the Lower East Side, but I never knew such a fact. So, I ordered the book to Drama Book Shop in New York that I had an account to mail order. However it turned out to be out of print. Then, I wrote a letter to the author care of Thoma s Yoseloff, the publisher. A couple of months later, I received his letter in wh ich he suggested me that the book was in a half-price sale at Marboro Books. His letter impressed me because I was not familiar with such a frank attitude to suggest his own book at a discount store. Then our correspondence started. My New York visi t was the consequence of our dozens of letters since then. David not only instru cted me about the Yiddish theater but also initiated me into the citywise and th e city cultures in the Lower Manhattan. My long interest in city culture encount ered the most stimulative examples that New York in the mid-70s was creating. Th at's why I dedicated my first book on New York (I wrote two books on New York) t o David.

A video image of David and Dorothy Lifson: when David passed away in 1996, I edited my 8 mm films of him and his wife Doroty, that were shot in 1976-77. At the time, 8 mm camera was easier to obtain than video camera.