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We showed Ben Platt Leo Frank’s letters — here’s what he learned

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What Ben Platt learned reading Leo Frank’s letters


Ben Platt has won raves for his turn as Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched after what was almost certainly a wrongful conviction for the murder of a teenage girl, in the Broadway revival of the musical Parade. It’s an intensely challenging role —and Platt got emotional when our PJ Grisar showed him Frank’s letters from jail.


It feels much more immediate”: In the stacks at the YIVO Institute for Jewish research, Platt looked at correspondence between Frank and the Forward’s founding editor Ab Cahan. Written in 1914 while he faced a death sentence, Frank was in surprisingly good spirits. “He’s so hopeful,” Platt said.


“Absolutely they should be Jews:” Platt said it was important to cast Jewish actors like him in the lead roles of Frank and his wife, Lucille. “This story is so specifically about Jewish oppression and antisemitism and it’s intrinsic to the lines and characterization,” he said.


“This is very urgent:” The first preview of Parade was met with neo-Nazi protesters claiming Frank was a pedophile. Platt said he doesn’t let “a few voices” from the fringe distract him, but  “it’s a great fire under the butt at all times.” 


Read the story ➤ 



(Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

The final season of Mrs. Maisel undermines TV norms. Which saves the show. In this era of peak TV, series tend to end on an ambiguous note, leaving something to viewers’ imagination. That’s not the case with The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which, our Mira Fox writes, ends with every storyline tied in a neat bow. For a show that “has always been best as a heavily stylized piece of nostalgia,” Fox writes, that approach yields “the show’s best season in years.” Read her review ➤


Jews of color delegation readies for first national federation trip to Israel. With the Jewish state convulsed by internal protest and external security threats, the group will meet there to, as one leader put it, “reflect, to connect, to consider our relationships to each other as JOC leadership.” Read the story ➤


But wait, there’s more …


• Jersey City’s Jewish mayor invoked his Jewish heritage and Holocaust-survivor grandparents as he announced his run for governor. Read the story ➤


• Hillel Silverman, rabbi to Jack Ruby — who infamously shot and killed JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald — died at 99. In an interview on the 50th anniversary of the murders, Silverman recalled visiting Ruby (formerly Rubenstein) the next day in jail. “I said ‘Why, Jack, why?’ He said, ‘I did it for the American people.’” Read the story ➤

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A Denton, Texas, man was sentenced after sending an online threat to the ADL. (Phira Phonruewiangphing/iStock)

😳  A Texas man was sentenced to two years in prison for a threat against the Anti-Defamation League. Anthony Hammer, 34, pleaded guilty to charges related to a 2021 message in which he threatened to “kill all of you zionist pigs” and promised a “4th reich.” (Dallas Morning News)


😔  The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in the holy land said Christians in Israel are experiencing increasing harassment under its current right-wing government. The Greek Orthodox Church, meanwhile, accused Israeli security of infringing on pilgrims’ rights ahead of Sunday’s “Holy Fire” observance at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (AP, Reuters)


👀  Under pressure to resign from the Senate, Dianne Feinstein late Wednesday asked to be “temporarily” replaced on its Judiciary Committee, where her long absence due to shingles has held up appointments of federal judges. Feinstein, a Democrat, has missed 58 Senate votes since her diagnosis, and two Democratic members of Congress, one from her home state of California, called on her to step down this week. (Guardian)


🎉  The city of Washington, D.C., is declaring Sunday an official day to celebrate Mimouna, a North African Jewish tradition, with festivities at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. The holiday is typically celebrated with yeasted pancakes called mufletas as Passover ends, which is tonight in the Diaspora. (JTA)


⚖️  Former President Donald Trump sued Michael Cohen, his former attorney, for $500 million. The suit accuses Cohen, who has volunteered to testify against Trump following his recent indictment on charges related to a payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, of “an onslaught of fiduciary and contractual breaches.” (ABC News)


🖼️  A lost trove of art and books belonging to a Jewish Estonian art historian is probably in Belarus, a new report found. Julius Genss’s heirs have sought restitution of his collection of some 5,000 artworks and 20,000 books, which was looted by Nazis, with little success. (Art Newspaper)

What else we’re reading ➤  What I learned at the Palm Springs Jewish Film Festival … Why filmmakers love depicting fascism … An antisemitic philosopher is experiencing a “troubling rebirth.” 



The Metropolitan Museum of Art, circa 1950. (Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

On this day in history (1870): The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in New York City. Known as the Met, it’s the largest museum in North America and the most visited one in the western hemisphere. Its permanent collection houses more than 2 million works, including manuscripts by Maimonides and artworks by Marc Chagall and Mark Rothko. But the Met has also come under fire for its approach to handling Nazi-looted art. In 2022, heirs of a Jewish art collector sued the museum, claiming it had sold a Van Gogh that had belonged to their ancestor in order to avoid returning it to them. 

It’s National Scrabble Day, so check out the game’s secret Jewish history



Samuel Breslow, one of our editorial fellows, captured the scene Wednesday at a Washington rally calling for the release of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter imprisoned in Russia on spying charges. The State Department formally classified Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained,” affirming that the U.S. government views him as a political prisoner.


Thanks to Benyamin Cohen, PJ Grisar and Sarah Nachimson for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at


The post We showed Ben Platt Leo Frank’s letters — here’s what he learned appeared first on The Forward.

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