Context: This is a monologue based on the play Indecent, written by Paula Vogel. The person speaking is Sholem Asch, the writer of God of Vengeance, the play on which Indecent is based. This takes place just after Asch did a reading of his play, and the play was rejected.
I can’t believe them! They hated my play! Those men wouldn’t know a great play if it was staring them in the face!
They cannot stand the thought that maybe we are not all perfect citizens. “We have to stand up for our own.” Easy to say when all you do is sit there and tear down the dreams of writers like me, just to make sure your vision of Jews remains inoffensive to gentiles.
I saw something more real within us Jews, that must be shared with the world. That’s why I wrote my God of Vengeance. We must accept that some of us do grievous wrongs. So, what if people hate us?! They are going to hate us whether we give them a reason or not! All I tried to do in God of Vengeance was show the purest love imaginable between two people, and obstacles in their way. Just because their circumstances aren’t normal, you hated them! You think that just because these characters aren’t real that they don’t have real problems? These characters are more real than any of the men in this room, they’re more passionate and more loving.
Gentiles think we think that we’re better than them. If only they could see this play, see the love between these two women, how they are together in the face of terrible adversity. Then maybe they could understand that we don’t try to portray ourselves as ideal, but as real people.
Change is coming. There is nothing you can do to stop it! These old men are stuck in a time when we were laughed at when we walked down the street, when gentiles would point and say “Look! That’s a Jew!” We were not thought of as equals to the gentiles, but as curiosities. We were made to change ourselves so we looked like the gentiles. In that time, we did all we could to show ourselves as good people. Every time a Jew wrote about Jews he would make
them virtuous and perfect. It didn’t work. Gentiles still see us as different, as beings not worthy
of their attention or respect.
My play is a masterpiece of love. It will be spoken of and performed for generations!
People will come from miles around to hear of the passion between Manke and Rifkele. Just
because you can’t see the beauty and purity in their love doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just
because I don’t show our people the way everyone else does doesn’t mean I am against our
kind. I am proud to call myself a Jew, and my play does not diminish this fact. My God of
Vengeance is a true work of art, one that must be performed!
We can’t keep hiding behind images of our people other Jewish writers create. That’s
why I wrote God of Vengeance! You wouldn’t understand it, because you are all too happy to
stay here and hope that one day you will be accepted by gentiles as their equals, even though
they hate you more every day. I cannot stand by and let that happen! I will take my play to
Berlin. Maybe there God of Vengeance will get the appreciation it deserves.