• R.I.P. Elsa Okon Rael, 93, in Dec. 2020 ("Rivka's First Thanksgiving,"

    From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 11 18:30:25 2021
    This has the only mention of her death, but I can't link to it directly. https://www.theatrewomen.org


    She lived in NYC and was a playwright and lyricist. Oddly, while she has an entry in the vol. 84 of the "Children's Literature Review" encyclopedias (quite prestigious), she does NOT have an entry in the "Something About the Author" encyclopedias! Very

    From 1985:


    By Nan Robertson.

    First paragraphs:

    At a party (in 1975), Elsa Rael, a playwright, saw a woman sing, dance and act her way through Stephen Sondheim's ''Company.'' Mrs. Rael called her ''mesmerizing, unbelievably talented.'' And when she asked the performer afterward why she wasn't working,
    the woman replied, ''I hit 40.''

    ''It broke my heart, and that was the seed of this project,'' Mrs. Rael said. The project is the Professional Older Women's Theater Festival, now taking place at the Public Theater. On the legitimate stage - where, Actors Equity points out, 85 percent of
    the performers are unemployed at any given time - middle-aged actresses are commonly believed to be the most underemployed of all.

    (includes photo)

    (three Kirkus reviews)

    (reader reviews)

    https://www.sandrabornstein.com/two-jewish-childrens-books-for-thanksgiving/ (review of "Rivka's First Thanksgiving")

    (from 1985: "Lack Of Roles For Older Actresses : Festival Inspired By An Age-old Issue")


    Marushka's Egg
    by Elsa Okon Rael, Joanna Wezyk (Illustrator)

    What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street
    by Elsa Okon Rael, Marjorie Priceman (Illustrator)
    1996 —

    When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street
    by Elsa Okon Rael, Marjorie Priceman (Illustrator)

    Rivka's First Thanksgiving
    by Elsa Okon Rael, Maryann Kavalski (Illustrator)


    Beauty and the Beast (1965)

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    Beauty and the Beast (1974, as lyricist)

    Lovesong (1976 as lyricist)


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  • From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 11 19:28:56 2021
    (list of songs from three musicals)

    (Book review of Rivka's First Thanksgiving)

    "This paean to the wisdom of children is based on Rael’s (When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street, 1997, etc.) own memories as a child of Jewish immigrants growing up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and will remind many readers of Barbara Cohen’s
    Molly’s Pilgrim. Like Cohen’s tale, Rivka Rubin’s story is set in early 20th-century New York City. In Rael’s treatment, however, it is the child who understands intuitively that Thanksgiving is indeed a holiday for all Americans and thus may
    rightfully be embraced by recently arrived Jews, for they have much to be grateful for in having arrived in the US. It’s not so easy to convince the adults around her, though, unfamiliar as they are with this American tradition. The neighborhood’s
    revered rabbi initially decides that Thanksgiving is not a celebration for Jews, and that’s enough to settle the matter for Rivka’s family. Determinedly and with a show of the special brand of chutzpah given only to children, Rivka writes the rabbi a
    letter that begins: “My Bubbeh believes you are the wisest man in the whole world, but I cannot agree with her.” The rabbi ultimately gives his blessing to Rivka’s argument and is invited to sit at the head of the table at the Rubin family’s
    first Thanksgiving celebration in America..."

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