It is 8:30 p.m on a Monday night in New York City, and Mandy Patinkin is yelling at a finance bro. The finance bro has done what Mandy and I agree is unthinkable: He has shown up almost an hour late for Mandy’s Yiddish concert, held to benefit and honor New York’s National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Mandy’s tone is playful, albeit laced with the sort of unbridled intensity that’s gotten him into trouble before, as he pauses mid-song to take the bro to task for swaggering dick-first into his primo floor seats halfway through the show.
“Are you just getting here?” asks Mandy, who is clad in all black but for his white sneakers and is sporting a very flattering belt. “You’d better not be moving a big donor to get in your seats.” The audience, nearly all of whom are old enough to have given birth to or contributed to the conception of Mandy, roars appreciatively. I am rapt. Mandy continues: “What business are you in? What kind of business are you in? You run a financial technology — who were you writing an email to? Are you very wealthy? So you are about — I’m saying 25 minutes late, to be kind. I’m gonna be nice. Do you think you can give $25,000 to the Folksbiene?”
Let me pause here to explain why I, a 28-year-old woman whose only experience of Yiddish is my grandmother angrily threatening to give me a poch en tuchus after I accidentally dangled my cousin from a balcony, am at Mandy Patinkin’s Yiddish concert. I don’t know Yiddish, but I know the language of lust, of unshakable admiration, of two golden eagles making love atop a shooting star.