By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklynite Betty Rosenberg Perlov has not let the passage of time diminish her creativity. At the remarkable age of 96, the Park Slope resident has published a heartfelt book that brings to life Yiddish theater in the early 20th century. “Rifka Takes a Bow” (Kar-Ben Publishing; September, 2013) tells the story of Rifka – Betty as a young girl – whose parents are actors in the Yiddish Theater in New York.
“Rifka Takes a Bow” follows Rifka as she finds herself center stage in a special role. The book poignantly illuminates a slice of the Jewish immigrant experience, as many were drawn together through the comedic and dramatic performances of Yiddish Theater. Originating in Eastern Europe, Yiddish Theater presented comic, dramatic and musical performances to an enthusiastic audience of thousands of Yiddish-speaking immigrants. It provided a collective cultural experience for immigrants from different parts of the world who had a shared language, but often had little else in common.
Interspersed throughout the text are vivid illustrations by Japanese artist Cosei Kawa, which further evoke the magic of a largely vanished performance art.
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Betty Rosenberg Perlov grew up in the Yiddish Theater, where her mother was an actress and her father a producer. Always artistic, she was a "child star" on her father’s weekly Yiddish radio soap opera. In her 50s, she acquired an advanced degree in Speech Pathology. But in her heart she has always been an artist; the publication of this book is her triumph. She lives in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
Cosei Kawa lives in the ancient capital of Tokyo, Kyoto. She has an MA in Illustration from University College Falmouth in the United Kingdom. In her work she uses a variety of mediums including acrylic, watercolor, collage and digital effects. She won the Macmillan Prize for Children’s books in 2007.