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Chicago Premiere! Theodore Bikel In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem

Chicago Premiere! Theodore Bikel In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 19, 2014

For more information contact:

Betsy Gomberg | 312.322.1756

Chicago Premiere! February 8, 2015

Masterful new documentary weaves
together the lives of two beloved icons.

(Chicago) The lives of two beloved icons are woven together in Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem, a masterful new documentary narrated by Alan Alda.

The film's Chicago premiere takes place on Sunday, February 8, 2015, at 2 pm at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, 610 South Michigan Avenue. Music critic Andrew Patner (98.7 WFMT Chicago,, and the Chicago Sun-Times) will lead a post-screening discussion.

A joyous mix of acting, storytelling, music, and biography, Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem is directed by John Lollos. Bikel, who turned 90 this year, is the film’s executive producer. The world premiere was held in July as a highlight of the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,400 at the Castro Theater.

Theodore Bikel is an unstoppable performer who has appeared in more than 40 films and countless stage and television productions. He is also the foremost interpreter of Sholom Aleichem's work. Bikel has played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (based on a series of Sholom Aleichem’s short stories) more than 2,000 times. He further brought Aleichem's work to the stage with two celebrated musical plays about the author (Greetings...Sholom Aleichem Lives in 1997 and Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears in 2008).

Sholom Aleichem (1858-1916) was a pioneer of modern Jewish literature. He championed and luxuriated in the Yiddish language and created indelible characters in stories that provide invaluable windows into pre-war Eastern European Jewish life, both real and imagined.

Theodore Bikel: In the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem combines Bikel's charismatic storytelling with an exploration of Sholom Aleichem's incredible life.

Tickets are $18 for members of the public, $10 for Spertus members, and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at and by phone at 312.322.1773. Discount parking is available for $11 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

This program is part of Spertus Institute’s Solomon Goldman Program Series, generously endowed by Rose and the late Sidney Shure. Film provided by The National Center for Jewish Film,

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Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is a partner in serving our community, supported by the JUF/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Theodore Bikel
was born 1924 in Vienna. When he was thirteen, he and his parents left Austria for Palestine. Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, and German with a respectable command of English and French, he intended to study and teach linguistics. But the pull of the theatre was stronger, and he joined the famous Habimah Theatre in 1943. A year later, he became one of the co-founders of the Israeli Chamber Theatre.

In 1946, Bikel entered London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His career began in earnest when Sir Laurence Olivier cast him in A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Vivien Leigh. His memorable Broadway performances include his Tony-nominated portrayal of Baron von Trapp in the original production of The Sound of Music.

He made his film debut in The African Queen with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. He has played a Chinese crook, Scottish police officer, American university dean, Russian submarine skipper, Czech MVD officer, Jewish refugee, Greek peanut vendor, Hindu doctor, and Hungarian linguist. His Emmy-winning television career spans 60 years and includes him playing Henry Kissinger in The Final Days, the title role in Julius Caesar, and parts in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Mission Impossible, Columbo, and Murder She Wrote.

Representing his diverse interests and talents, Theodore Bikel is among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival and has served as President of Actors' Equity Association, Senior Vice President of the American Jewish Congress, a Board Member of Amnesty International (USA), and, by Presidential appointment, a member of the National Council on the Arts.

Theodore BikelFilm Poster

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Sholem AleichemSholom Aleichem

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