South of Delancey, developed and workshopped in NYC, is based on the true story of a Jewish arbitration court and the people who sought out its counsel. In the early 1930's a man named Rabbi Rubin came to the Lower East Side and formed the Jewish American Board of Peace and Justice: a place for the Jewish community to come and settle their disputes. The Judges were made up of famous lawyers, senators and Rabbi Rubin himself. The people who sought council were often too poor and unfamiliar with the workings of the American justice system to take their case to the state courts. The arbitration court was soon recorded and broadcast over Yiddish radio stations, such as WLTH and WEVD.
Cases were often presented in Yiddish and the court calendar was always booked. Disputants often forgot they were being broadcast over the radio as cases became very heated with emotion. The recordings upon which South of Delancey is based can be heard at yiddishradioproject.org.
South of Delancey is a story about three of these cases. We follow the story of Faye Cohen - a young woman who marries a man she loves but doubts his feelings for her due to their brisk marriage during the start of World War II. Our story continues with a peek into the lives of the Bitterman sisters, two resentful women with drastically different lives who must learn to live together. We get a glimpse of the trials and tribulations of Herman and Lilly, a lustful couple who marry to save face during the conservative times of the 1940s. These are stories of the human struggle in America during the troubled time of war. It is a recreation of the community of the Lower East Side when Rabbi Rubin's court was on the air.