Museum of the Yiddish Theatre


Zalmen Zylbercweig

     and his Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, thousands of men and women have participated in some way in the Yiddish theatre. This exhibition focuses on the work of one man, as well as the professional life of his second wife Celia and her first husband, actor Leon Zuckerberg. Zylbercweig was editor of the six-volume "Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre)", a compendium of more than 2,800 Yiddish-language biographies and histories of those individuals and now-defunct theatrical organizations who were once involved in some way with the Yiddish theatre.

The Museum of Family History's strives mightily to recreate the Yiddish world of the past, often creating new multimedia exhibitions, while also presenting educational and research material that will be of interest to lovers of Yiddish language and culture.

AUDIO: Museum Founder and Director Steven Lasky introduces this exhibition. Zalmen Zylbercweig also talks about the once-rich Jewish cultural life in Europe, his efforts in searching for material for his "Lexicon", and of his love for America. Listen here.

Z. was also the editor or author of more than thirty books relating to Yiddish culture and history. The first volume of the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", his most famous work, was published in 1931; Volume 6 was issued in 1969. Volume 7 was never published, as it still remains in galley form, as Z. passed away in 1972, and the hopes of publishing this last volume have faded. Volume 5, which was published after World War II, is the Lexicon's memorial edition and consists mostly of biographies of those who were killed during World War II by the Nazis et al.


Zalmen Zylbercweig

circa 1960s

Courtesy of the estate of
Zalmen and Celia Zylbercweig.
Museum of Family History

Explore the exhibition:        

A Short History of Zalmen Zylbercweig
The Story Behind the Man >>


The Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
Preserving Jewish Cultural History >>


The Yiddish Radio Hour (1949-1969)
On the Air! with the Zylbercweigs >>


Leon and Celia Zuckerberg on Stage
Yiddish Theatre on Tour in Latin America >>

Article: "Hebrew Theatre is Born in Botoşani", August 1928.
Article: "Zylbercweig Visits Czernowitz", August 1934.

Within this multimedia exhibition, you will be able to hear Zylbercweig's stepdaughter speak fondly of her stepfather Zalmen (or "Aba" as she calls him), her mother Celia and her father, actor Leon Zuckerberg.

This exhibition is also a component of the Museum's Family Talk audio tour entitled Lives in the Yiddish Theatre: Tributes to a Bygone Era.

* -- Many of the books authored by Zalmen Zylbercweig are freely available online at the Internet Archive. You can also purchase either used copies (if available), or reprints of any of these books, by contacting the National Yiddish Book Center.



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