Red Rattler apologises

March 23, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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A Sydney theatre which refused to offer its facilities to a Jewish group saying that the organisation “does not support colonialism/Zionism” has apologised to the applicant.

Shailee Mendelovich had applied to the theatre to use its facilities for a production to be staged by Hillel, part of the Shalom Institute.




We would like to apologise for the email that was sent to you by one of our staff members. The email was inappropriate and not the reflection of the values of the Community Board of the Red Rattler Theatre Inc.

The Red Rattler Theatre Inc condemns racism of any kind.

The Red Rattler Theatre Inc. is a community theatre space which promotes diversity in a safe a respectful environment. We welcome organisations from all cultures and walks of life and actively encourage cultural diversity.

Our content policies refer to ensuring a safe and respectful and inclusive environment for LGBTQI, culturally diverse and indigenous members of our community which includes creating a safe space for members of the Jewish community.

We also apologise that it has taken so long to respond to both your and Mr Vic Alhadeff’s email. As a nearly entirely volunteer run organisation.

With no full time staff, it has taken a few days for the email to be appropriately escalated to The Red Rattler community Board of Directors for review. Please be reassured, we have taken this incident very


We would like to welcome further conversation, in the hopes that we can discuss the possibility of future events Hillel might be able to hold in the space.


The entire community Board of Directors of the Red Rattler Theatre Inc.

J-Wire has asked Shailee if she intends continuing with her enquiry to use the theatre in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville.


8 Responses to “Red Rattler apologises”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    I am always affected by the references you make to your family in Eastern Europe during the time of the Shoah. I have done a lot of reading of those times and also have friends in Melbourne who lost most or all of their families; I have a dear friend who is a survivor of the Camps, although have not been in touch with him for a few years now and therefore cannot assume he is still alive (you may well think it odd I call him a dear friend when we haven’t had more recent contact – there are reasons for that – however, he will always be in my heart). Despite all this, my knowledge is nothing in comparison with yours on the subject, and I always like to hear what you have to say. I wonder if the things you attribute to Hungary apply also to Poland? I would think they probably do, even though there is some work being done by the younger generation of Poles in relation to recognition of Polish Jews (they are perhaps a minority). I dislike the fact that carvings and artefacts of one kind and another depicting Jews are offered in the shops of Cracow and other areas that were once heavily populated by Jewish people, and Klezmer music played madly in some cafes/restaurants, all for the tourists … cashing in on what once was vibrant Jewish life, but decidedly is no longer. There is something utterly repugnant about this, at least to me – I’ve seen wooden carvings in particular, of a religious Jew, a violin-playing Jew, etc.

    I understand your perspective about alerting the Hungarian Club in Adelaide due to the bad conversation possibilities, but that’s not really the point as regards Margolyes or the clueless feature writer. Fact is nobody should feel they must announce their Jewishness in case it’s not wanted, nor should a journalist writing about it see it as a good and perfectly understandable thing to do.

    I wonder if you might know Tibor Vajda? He lives in Sydney, although it’s more than possible he is no longer with us, and it was when I ran my own business Lynk Manuscript Assessment Service, between 1998 and 2004, before selling it and moving to Israel, that Tibor contacted me with his manuscript for an assessment report in regard to redrafting and possible publishing. It was a non-fiction work relating to the last few months of World War II, when he, then 20 years old, joined the anti-fascist underground and, together with Christian Hungarians, saved as many people as he could. In 1946, along with other former partisans, he joined the political department of the Budapest police force in order to fight a resurgent public anti-Semitism. This proved to be a catastrophic choice and in 1952 he left the organisation, having become increasingly unhappy with the methods it used. Two months later he was arrested by Hungary’s Stalinist government and charged with being a Zionist conspirator and an imperialist spy. He spent nearly four years in prison and it was Stalin’s death that saved him from execution. It was after the Russian army occupied Hungary in November 1956 that Tibor and his family left Hungary and migrated to Australia.
    His manuscript was well-written, with a very distinctive voice, and after my assessment he set to in order to redraft, after which I contacted Henry Rosenbloom at Scribe Publications (a high quality Melbourne publisher) and ‘Hope Dies Last’ became a book in 2000.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, speaking of ‘rats’, I am about to mention a different kind, so excuse me for getting off the Red Rattler Theatre Company at this point, and heading instead to the Hungarian Club of that most conservative of places, Adelaide. My gripe is (again) with Miriam Margolyes, who has a love affair with Adelaide and is here to do a one woman show for a week or so. She has openly admitted loving Adelaide and ever since is cherished here as some kind of doyenne of good taste combined with earth mother.

    Last week the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ weekend magazine devoted two pages of cloying typescript to her, during which journalist Penelope Debelle mentioned Margolyes’ great love for the Hungarian Club, which she frequents every time she comes to Adelaide. I could scarcely believe my eyes to read in relation to this the fact that our Miriam was ‘secretly a bit worried they might mind that she was Jewish’. The astute, razor-sharp Debelle enthusiastically informed us that ‘being Jewish was never an issue (she made sure they all knew from the start) …’. Unbelievable, because written with genuine lack of concern or awareness of what those words implied. Oh boy, do words matter! Never let anyone say they don’t.

    I wrote the following to the publication, but they have not printed it, I guess because it reflects poorly on both the feature writer and Margolyes:

    “Miriam Margolyes loves Adelaide’s Hungarian Club, but secretly was a bit worried they might mind she was Jewish. And feature writer Penelope Debelle assures us that ‘being Jewish was never an issue (she made sure they all knew from the start)’! Can scarcely believe what I’m reading here … I mean, we are in Adelaide in the 21st century, not Germany during the 1930s/40s. Is it really necessary that a Jew must think to inform any establishment anywhere of their Jewishness, or that a magazine feature writer would implicitly endorse this attitude? Obviously a reflection of Margolyes’ own view of herself rather than a problem with the Hungarian Club.”

    Getting back to the Red Rattler, you’re right, Otto. It was up to them to offer the venue in line with the original request, and really the Hillel people and Vic. A. could have pointed that out as response instead of just accepting the apology.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat,

      The tit bit about Myriam being in love with Adelaide is interesting,but do tell us , Adelaide who !!
      The be honest it makes perfect sense to me to alert a Hungarian establishment, particularly an emigree one, that a Yid is about to enter their premises so in their “dumalni” ( conversations) they avoid within the earshot of the poor booger the common Hungarian expression “Bidos Zsido” an obscenity much worse than just “bloody Jew”, that’s if they want to pretend that they are civilised in that context – which traditionally they would not be -. It does not make sense to me that a Jew would feel comfortable in a pure Hungarian joint. My parents, whose mother tongue was Hungarian, knew too well what was a safe distance from people they experienced in tragic circumstances during the Shoah. Some cosmetic changes seem to have occurred in Hungary in that respect, but the emergence of the Jobik popular movement/party is a timely reminder.
      Back to Ms Margolyes , her elect affinities appear to be in the antisemitic zone anyway.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    The Community Board of Directors obviously needs to vet their volunteers more closely and supply them with the regulations for administering Red Rattler Theatre. Seems some are using it for their own political activism.

  4. Leon Poddebsky says:

    On whose territory are the members of “The Red Rattler” Theatre squatting Inc?

    • Otto Waldmann says: mean sewers !

      • Eleonora Mostert says:

        come on Otto….is it not truthful?

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Eleonora, tell you what would be truthful; an overture (sic ) from the Rats to the Jewish group inviting them unconditionally to stage the previously rejected production. They are skirting the main issues with verbal crap, just what a rat would do.

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