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 Featured Exhibition

Celia Adler...Her Life in Yiddish Theatre, and more    

Celia Adler was born in New York City, the daughter of the great Yiddish actor Jacob P. Adler and the beloved Yiddish actress Dina Shtettin. Celia was a wonderfully talented actress. She was so very much admired by her colleagues and by her adoring audiences throughout her long career on the Yiddish and English stages.

The Museum was privileged to get to know Celia's only child (with Yiddish actor Lazar Freed), Dr. Selwyn Freed who, along with his wife and two daughters, was instrumental in making this multimedia exhibition about his mother's life possible.

We, who are lovers of the Yiddish theatre, are so fortunate that Celia chose to write her autobiography, which first appeared in the Yiddish language in hardcover form in 1959. Her story, which was published in two volumes, was never published in English, in any form, until now. It is chock full of interesting stories and anecdotes about Celia's professional and personal life, stories about many of the famous and not-so-famous actors and actresses who have graced the boards of the Yiddish stage over the past many decades. A fascinating read!

Many of us know that the majority of life accounts of our Yiddish actors et al were originally published in Yiddish--many in Yiddish-language newspapers--and were never translated into English, so here is a rare opportunity to go back in time and see what it was like in the early twentieth century to be involved in Yiddish theatre.

In this online exhibition you will also find twenty-five excerpts (presented here in video form) of a 1974 interview conducted by the American Jewish Committee of Celia Adler. Many of what Celia has to say within these excerpts can also be found in her written autobiography, but there is nothing like hearing the timbre and expression in her voice, as she tells of her life experiences. It is real treat.



In 1975 Celia gave a talk in New York City to a group of senior citizens. Although the talk was not professionally recorded - and hence the quality of the recording is not ideal - listening to what she has to say about the history of the Yiddish theatre will no doubt be worthwhile to the "museum visitor."

We are fortunate that Dr. Freed and his family recorded Celia during a Passover Seder conducted in the 1970s, as she recited a well-known poem by writer Mani Leib, "The Stranger," which has to do with Eliyahu HaNavi, whose name often arises as we talk about this important Jewish holiday. According to ancient tradition, Eliyahu HaNavi makes a secret appearance at every Pesach Seder.

Within this online exhibition, you will also have the opportunity to hear Dr. Freed talk about the great Yiddish actor, Ludwig Satz and his family and his interactions with them, both as a young man and as an adult. For those of you who are unaware of this fact, Ludwig Satz was Celia's brother-in-law.

You will be able to see photographs of, and read about, the life and times of Celia's first husband, Yiddish actor Lazar Freed, a very fine Yiddish actor in his own right. Just follow the links below, either by left-clicking on the individual photograph or the caption beneath it.

Also included within this exhibition is a partial listing of Celia's career on the Yiddish stage, a near fifteen-minute video clip from a 1961 episode of the television program, "Naked City," and lastly photographs and words about Celia's most famous appearance on the English stage, in Ben Hecht's "A Flag is Born" in 1946.

You can comment on this online exhibition by visiting the Museum of the Yiddish Theatre Facebook page.

To view a particular aspect of the exhibition shown below, simply click on any of the thumbnail photographs or captions.


The Celia Adler Story:
Her 1959 Autobiography,
"Tsili Adler dertseylt,"
Volumes 1 and 2
(presented here to the public in English for the very first time.)
Celia Adler Interview  
in 1974
by the
Jewish Committee
(conversation in English) 
Celia Adler Speaks 
in 1975 to a group
of senior citizens in
New York City about
the vast history
of the Yiddish theatre. 

Celia Adler Recites 
Mani Leib's poem
of "The Stranger"
in both Yiddish and English
at a Seder with her family

 Dr. Selwyn Freed 
the only child of Celia Adler
and Lazar Freed talks about  Ludwig Satz  and his family.
Lazar Freed
a fine Yiddish actor,
Celia's first husband 
and father of their only child,

Dr. Selwyn Freed.
A Partial Stageography
of Celia Adler's Career
on the Yiddish Stage.
Celia Alder on Television
in a 1961 episode
of "Naked City."
Celia on the English Stage
in Ben Hecht's "A Flag is Born,"
with Paul Muni, in 1946.


Autobiography published in Yiddish in two volumes in 1959.
This is the first publication of the English translation.


Exhibition Curator: Steven Lasky


Exhibition made possible with the cooperation and special permission of Dr. Selwyn Freed and his family.
Excerpts from the Celia Adler interview courtesy of the American Jewish Committee.




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