If you’ve always wanted Mandy Patinkin to host a podcast — which, let’s face it, we all have, I mean, I’d listen to a shopping list narrated by Patinkin — we’ve got some good news for you.
The award-winning Jewish actor whose voice has become a quintessential part of our pandemic experience is about to launch his first podcast in collaboration with the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) next week.
The podcast, titled Exile, will explore the lives of German Jews in the 1930s, as the Nazi regime rose to power and threatened the peace, livelihoods, homes and lives of the country’s Jewish population. Using information from LBI’s archive, it will tell the story of extraordinary Jews from that time, from Kurt Hirschfield, a theater director who premiered Brecht’s “Mother Courage” during WWII, and who introduced German speaking audiences to Tennessee Williams, to Alice Urbach, a cookbook author whose work was stolen from her, to Florence Mendheim, a Jewish librarian who spied on Nazis in New York City. The podcast will use letters, diaries and interviews to tell their stories.
These are all such fascinating stories, and to have Mandy Patinkin and the team at LBI and Antica Productions bring them to life in this beloved, addictive format is such a treat. You can already hear Patinkin really bring us into these stories in the preview to the podcast — bringing emotion and flair to these incredible stories.
This kind of project is also incredibly vital at this moment in particular, when so many of us are talking about the growing popularity of fascist ideas here and around the world. It’s a necessary time to explore what happened when a virulent fascist regime took over a country, and the stories of those who fought it, escaped it and survived it.
It’s also a way for us to honor the stories of the many Jewish refugees who fled for their lives, and to remember how important the plight of refugees escaping from similarly oppressive regimes is to this day. Patinkin is a longtime advocate and activist working with refugees, through the International Rescue Committee. The first line in his Twitter bio is “welcome refugees” and his pinned tweet is a fundraiser to help an Afghan friend’s family escape the Taliban regime.
“I am fortunate to be part of Exile, to tell the extraordinary stories of these individuals, their noble lives and journey,” Patinkin said. “It is important to tell their stories at this time… for hope, inspiration and humanity all over the world.”