Di tsvey Kuni-Leml

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Di tsvey Kuni-Leml ("The Two Kuni-Lemls") is a Yiddish comedy in four acts by Avrom Goldfaden (also found as Goldfadn; 1840-1908)[1].

The title appears in various forms in different publications, including Tsvey Kuni Lemel, Zwei Kuhne Lemels, Shnei Kuni Leml and שני קוני למל

The original text

Set in Odessa and Krakow, the play is based on a popular German comedy Nathan Schlemiel (Nathan Idiot) by J. Rosenzweig ()[] and broadly deals with issues of family, love, marriage, assimilation, religious tradition, tradition vs. modernity and Jewish Communal Affairs.

The storyline is briefly outlined as follows by Eva Heinstein[2]: "The play follows the story of Carolina, a daughter of a wealthy Hasid, who falls in love with Max, a maskil medical student. Her father insists that she marry an observant Jew, and with the help of a self-interested matchmaker, finds Kuni Lemel (Max's cousin), a short-sighted, stuttering, limping boy of respected Rabbinical lineage. Max takes advantage of his physical resemblance and dresses up as Kuni Lemel to furl the match, and marry his beloved Carolina. "

First performed in 1880 and published in 1887. Published by the New York Hebrew Publishing Company as Tsvey Kuni Lemel.

Translations and adaptations

Adapted as a film called The Flying Matchmaker (also: Two Kuni Lemel, Shnei Kuni Leml or שני קוני למל) is a 1966 Israeli film musical directed by Israel Becker. The story is based on the 1880 Yiddish play.

Translated for English audiences as The Fanatic; or, the Two Kuni Lemls, later shortend to the better known Kuni Leml and performed in 1984 in New York. [3]

Performance history in South Africa

1890s: Performed as Zwei Kuhne Lemels by the Jewish Dramatic Society (founded in 1896), possibly at the Baltic House Hall in Fox Street, Johannesburg.


Gustav Saron and Louis Hotz. 1955. The Jews In South Africa - A History. Geoffrey Cumberlege, Oxford University Press, Cape Town, London, New York, 1955.

Eva Heinstein et al. "Tsvey Kuni Lemel", in the online exhibit entitled: "Abraham Goldfaden: A Centennial Tribute", on the Jewish Music Research Centre website[4]




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