A timeless script: Play about a Russian-Jewish immigrant’s struggles has modern overtones

Although a play at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick is set in the early 20th-century, its story of a Russian Jew’s flight from persecution and struggle to find acceptance in America has modern resonance.

“The Immigrant,” which runs March 12-April 7, was written by Mark Harelik based on the true story of his grandfather, Haskell Harelik, who fled czarist Russia and ended up the lone Jew in the small town of Hamilton, Texas. The play, with its four-person cast, has been performed throughout the country for a number of years.

“It’s a really beautiful personal story about a guy who leaves a pogrom and personal trauma and tries to establish a new life for himself in a land he knows nothing about,” said Benjamin Pelteson, who plays the title role of Haskell Harelik. “It resonates for me with a lot of things happening today with people who come to this country for their own personal safety.”

Jim Jack, the show’s director and the theater’s director of education and outreach, called “The Immigrant” “a great story for these polarizing times.”

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