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The lovely Goldie Eisman had a wonderful career as a Yiddish actress, a soubrette, on the Yiddish stage.
Here you can read about her personal and professional life, her actor-husband Marty Baratz, her sister Edythe et al.


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 Exhibitions

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William Rolland and his Million-Dollar Yiddish Theatre
opened Thursday, September 29, 2022

This Yiddish playhouse was located on Eastern Parkway and cost $1,000,000.

"Yiddish drama will be given new impetus today with the laying of the cornerstone of the new $1,000,000 Rolland Yiddish Theater, Eastern Parkway and St. John's Place. More than 3,000 persons, including leaders in all walks of life, will attend the ceremonies.

Named for William Rolland of 1245 Eastern Parkway, the playhouse will be dedicated to his ambition, the production of plays of Yiddish origin to depict the color and spirit of his race.

Today's ceremonies will be the realization of the dream of a boy whose first job, when he came to this country in 1903, brought him six dollars a week as cashier in Max Gabel's theater. In his playhouse, which will seat 1,652, Mr. Rolland intends to portray works of native authors in the native tongue."

Read about this theatre, as well as its first Yiddish-language production.

 

 

     
 

Yiddish Theatre Posters from Productions Across North America
opened Sunday, September 4, 2022

In this exhibition, made possible due to the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, you will be able to see a series of twenty posters from various Yiddish theatres in North America and Canada.

You will also be able to read a bit about each play, learning about various aspects of the production.

         
 

In Honor of our Dear Molly: Her Fiftieth Anniversary in the Theatre
opened Sunday, July 31, 2022

On January 19, 1943, the Ladies' Welfare League of the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance (the mutual aid society for Yiddish actors and actresses) staged a gala performance in honor of Molly Picon's fifty years in the theatre.

During this evening, the first act of Molly's play, "Oy is dus a leben" was performed with Molly in the lead, and other actors did their part by appearing in some capacity during the program.

In this lovely, online exhibition, you will be able to see and read the contents of this evening's program.

You will also be able to see photographs of Molly Picon in a number of her most famous stage roles, and you will also be able to read a myriad of tributes to the wonderful and giving lady of the Yiddish stage.

You will surely enjoy visiting this exhibition!

The photo here is from a performance in English with Molly titled "Birdie."

 

   
 

A History of the Folksbiene
opened Sunday, June 26, 2022

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene was founded in 1915 on the Lower East Side of New York City under the auspices of the Workmen’s Circle. It is the oldest consecutively producing theatre company in the United States. It still graces us with wonderful Yiddish-language productions, giving each of us who love theatre, the Yiddish language and Jewish culture a chance to feel pleasure, to reconnect with our Yiddishkayt. Such a production opened in late 2017 when the Folksbiene staged a Yiddish-language version of the famed play, “Fiddler on the Roof,” to rave reviews.

In this online exhibition, you will be able to learn of the history of the Folksbiene. You will have the opportunity to read about the plays that it staged over these many years, to see a plethora of photographic stills of the productions, to read the cast listings and the synopses of many of the plays. Videos of past performances, written tributes to the Folksbiene might also be included in this exhibition.  My thanks go to the folks at the Folksbiene for their cooperation in the creation of this online exhibition. Thank you, thank you! Photo here from the 1990's production of Jacob Gordin's "Mirele Efros." Long live the Folksbiene!

 
Ida Kaminska and the Jewish State Theatre of Poland Play in New York City, 1967
opened Sunday, June 5, 2022

The wonderful Polish actress Ida Kaminska and her theatre troupe came to the United States for the first time to perform two plays from their repertoire in the Fall of 1967. This was their first appearance here. Mrs. Kaminska was the troupe's leading lady and also its director. At the time the Jewish State Theatre of Poland was the only Yiddish language permanent repertory theatre in the world.

The Polish Artistic Agency financed the travel expenses of the theatre, its actors, stagehands, and the entire wardrobe and sets. The theatre spent months building new sets for the Billy Rose Theatre, which would be where they would be staging their repertoire of plays. Mrs. Kaminska put on special performances of both of their plays in Warsaw, Poland, in order to prepare their company for New York.

In this exhibition you will see many photographs from these two productions -- from Mirele Efros and Mother Courage and her Children -- learn about Mrs. Kaminska, the authors and the plays that they would stage during their time in the United States.

 
 

"I Am a Union Member ..."
opened on Sunday, May 1, 2022

This new online exhibition at the Museum of the Yiddish Theatre focuses on the Yiddish theatre in Poland, mostly featuring photographs of members (men and women, of course) of the PYAFP (Professional Yiddish Actors Union in Poland) during the 1920s.

You might also see documents for some of them, which also was included on their membership card, or on their application for membership in the union.

Links will also be provided to their biographies (in English), when available, which are found in the volumes of Zylbercweig's "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre." These biographies have been translated into English from their original Yiddish versions.

Also included within this exhibition are a series of articles that talk about the Yiddish theatre in Poland in the 1920s and 1930s, before the Second World War and the Holocaust, when so many Yiddish actors and actresses perished. These articles appeared in the Forverts (the Forward newspaper) in various editions from the 1920s and 1930s. You will also be able to read their 1919 Rules and Regulations book.

While this exhibition features 166 union members, there were many more that either aspired to become members, or actually became members. The Museum hopes you will learn about Yiddish theatre in pre-World War II Poland, and that you will become enlightened by it.

 

 

 

They Graced Our Stages: The Yiddish Theatre Troupes, 1910 to 1957
opened on March 30, 2022

Throughout the history of the Yiddish theatre, their managers have engaged many actors, singers and dancers and brought them together and hopefully formed a cohesive unit, namely the Yiddish theatre troupe, which they hoped would perform with great success in their theatre, and/or “on the road.” Yiddish theatre troupes of actors and actresses, young and old, were engaged, performing all throughout the United States, Canada and all over the world. These troupes were sometimes organized by the directors of the troupe or the managers of the theatres and often, but not always, were sanctioned by the Hebrew Actors' Union, or by other means.

Most of the troupes, especially those who performed in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City were composed of those who were members of the Hebrew Actors' Union. Conversely, those who spent their season in other big cities and small towns were non-union, although not those troupes that originated in New York City and went on tour, mostly when the regular theatre season was over.

Here, in this exhibition, you will see photographs of nearly fifty Yiddish theatre troupes, which for the most part performed at one time in the United States. When possible, the members of these troupes have been identified, but of course, many remain unidentified to the Museum of the Yiddish Theatre.

 

The Big Ads: How the Yiddish Theatre Publicized their Productions
opened on March 1, 2022

From the early 1920s until the mid-1940s, the managers of the Yiddish theatre at times placed large full-page ads (sometimes two pages) in such Yiddish newspapers as the Forverts, or the Jewish Forward newspaper.

Here you will see a good number of those advertisements that were published from 1923 until right before the onset of the Great Depression in September 1929.

Because of the large size of the advertisements, you can often see well the beautiful faces of the actors in their scenes, and you might wish to imagine all about them in their roles and see how well they worked together on the Yiddish stage. What a treat!

You couldn't see them then because you weren't born yet, but here you can lend your imagination to making believe that you were attending these shows and will see scenes that will give you some sort of idea of what the theme of the play was ...

 

The Forward Vacation Follies
opened on February 1, 2022

From 1931, at least until 1941, the Forverts, i.e. the Jewish Forward newspaper, put on a spectacular production at one of the Yiddish theatres in New York City, which featured hundreds of the stars of the Yiddish stage, members of the press, conductors and the like, who appeared for free. These shows were put on during the second half of August, a month or so before the opening of a new Yiddish theatre season. The proceeds from these productions, which were always overfilled with an eager and enthusiastic audience, went to sending hundreds of poor, Jewish children to the country to a camp operated by the Forward, Camp Vacamas, which was located in the Catskill Mountains, in the town of Kingston, New York.

Most of what was performed during "Vacation Follies" was to be laughed at, as much of its content was filled with humor. Each yearly production was a rousing success, The purpose of the productions was a noble one. Being able to give joy to thousands of young, Jewish children and send them into the country, if only for a week or two, was a mitzvah. A wonderful undertaking by the Forward during those years! Yasher koach!

 

 

New York City's Yiddish Theatre and the Forward: How They Reviewed the Plays That Entertained the Mostly  Jewish Public During the Great Depression, 1929-1941
opened on January 1, 2022

Take a journey back in time, during the span of years in which many of our ancestors lived and suffered as a result of the Great Depression. Imagine that you are getting your daily edition of the Forverts, i.e. the Jewish Forward newspaper, and as someone who is interested in the goings-on in New York's Yiddish theatre, you open up the issue to the third page and find a review of a play written by one of their critics, usually either Lazar Fogelman, Dan Kaplan, Hillel Rogoff, B. Levitin, or Forverts editor Ab. Cahan ... Here you can read any or all a large number of reviews (sixty of them!), and from this you can get an idea by the words of the reviews, what kind of Yiddish plays were put on during this arduous time ...

 

 

Photographers to the Stars
opened on December 1, 2021

You will be enchanted by this pictorial exhibition, which features nearly three hundred photographs that were taken by various photographic studios that, mostly but not always, were located in New York City, especially in the borough of Manhattan, but also in Brooklyn.

There were a good number of photographic studios -- predominantly in Manhattan -- that were visited over the years. The photographers there carefully posed and photographed many of our famed Yiddish theatre stars, either in the form of a portrait photograph, or in costume from a play that they were acting in. Often the photographic studio sent a representative to a theatre in order to take a number of photographs (often publicity shots) during dress rehearsals of a particular production. Sometimes the studio photographer was hired to come to various events that were sponsored by various New York City Yiddish theatre organizations to take a series of photographs of those who were in attendance. In this exhibition, you will see a number of photographs taken by twelve photographic studios. Information about the photograph will be provided, when information is available.


 




 

Yiddish Theatre Expands to Brooklyn
from the "Museum of Family History Comes to Brooklyn"

From Abraham Goldfaden and the open-air stages in gardens of Iasi, Romania, to the Lower East Side of New York City, the Yiddish theatre expanded throughout the world. At one point there were a great number of Yiddish theatres in New York City, but knowing that a part of the burgeoning Jewish population were moving away from the densely packed tenements of the Lower East Side, the theatre entrepreneurs, the impresarios, decided to reach out to other areas of New York City, either uptown to The Bronx, or eastward to Kings County, subsequently the city of Brooklyn.

The theatres there too were packed mostly with Jews, who were looking for some sort of entertainment after a hard day or week of work.

Here we will explore a good number of Yiddish theatre productions that were staged at a myriad of Brooklyn Yiddish theatres over several decades in the twentieth century.

 

Joseph Rumshinsky Tells About Fifty Years of Yiddish Theatre

opened on November 1, 2021

Rumshinsky was an orchestra conductor and arguably one of our best composers of Yiddish music, especially those pieces written for Yiddish operettas. In this exhibition you will find a series of thirty-six articles he wrote as he celebrated his fifty years in the Yiddish theatre in 1952-3. There are so many interesting anecdotes, insights into the personalities and acting skills of many of the well-known Yiddish actors and actresses. He wrote two articles a week for the Forward, on every Monday and Thursday, for eighteen weeks.

Per the equally wonderful composer, Sholom Secunda, in a lovely tribute to his colleague Joseph Rumshinsky:

" ... Rumshinsky is not a composer who only made for himself a well-worn path -- he created a way for himself and created a path for [other] composers, who had followed him into the theatre. ... Rumshinsky brought into the operetta a new spirit, a worldly spirit. He introduced a musical atmosphere that exalted the operetta to a sphere of worldly scope. ... He didn't just create a new style in music, but he also created a demand for first-class musicians in an orchestra, who over time were drawn to the Yiddish theatre. He created a demand for great singers, and our Yiddish actors and actresses had begun to learn how to sing, and it drew musical people to the Yiddish stage. He created a demand for genuine dances, for ballet dance, and for professional choreography to give content to the dance. For each operetta he created popular songs that penetrated deep into the hearts of the theatre audience. In the span of the fifty fruitful and productive years, his songs were sung for the big and small, young and old, not only in America, where the songs were born, but in every corner of the earth where Jewish life and the desire for Yiddish breathes. ... When the future historians will note the most important events of our Jewish lives, from our Yiddish theatre music, and of the entire Yiddish theatre, he will be forever marked, together with Abraham Goldfaden, the father of the Yiddish theatre, Jacob Gordin, the founder of the Yiddish drama, also the name of Joseph Rumshinsky, as the builder of the modern Yiddish operetta."

 
 





 


Maurice Schwartz and his Yiddish Art Theatre

opened September 1, 2021

Maurice Schwartz was not only one of the world's foremost Yiddish actors, he was also the founder and leader of the Yiddish Art Theatre of New York. Under his leadership, the talented theatre troupe performed in many high-quality Yiddish productions, always striving to maintain Schwartz's high artistic standards.

A renowned Yiddish actor and director, Schwartz began his life in the Yiddish theatre by performing with a number of Yiddish theatrical troupes. Even at this early stage in his career, he had the desire to introduce Yiddish versions of popular European plays to the American audience, many of whom were immigrants like himself.

The Yiddish Art Theatre was located in New York City, though the troupe, over the years, would move their theatre to different locations within the New York metropolitan area. Over more than a thirty year period, Schwartz and his acting troupe performed nearly two-hundred works in Yiddish to audiences in New York City alone.

The Yiddish Art Theatre is dedicated to Maurice Schwartz and all the wonderful Yiddish actors and actresses and behind-the-scenes personnel that were ever part of a Yiddish language production. At the Yiddish Art Theatre, you will see photographs of some of his productions as well as some of the many who were part of the Yiddish Art Theatre -- not only the acting troupe, but those behind the scenes as well. You may also like to read Martin Boris' biography of Schwartz, entitled "Once a Kingdom."

 





 


Along Came Goldie ...
opened July 3, 2021

There were many actors and actresses of the Yiddish stage who married each other. Many of them followed the same path to the stage as the other, and thus their stage careers often mimicked each other's. Here are many family photographs, both of a personal and professional nature, of Goldie Eisman and her husband Marty Baratz, as well as those of Edythe (one of Goldie's sisters) and Isadore Richman, both of whom were also involved with the Yiddish stage.

This lovely Yiddish actress, Goldie Eisman, was born on 15 March 1906 in Toronto, Canada. Her father was a tailor. She studied there, learning with a rabbi, attending public school, as well as one class in high school.

She and her family then moved to Montreal from Toronto, and it was there that they came to meet Yiddish actors who sometimes would take her to act in a child's role. This was until 1923, when Jacob Cone brought her down to New York City, where she performed in the Lipzin Theatre for the first time as a soubrette; this was in the play "Di fargesene kalen (The Forgotten Bride)," together with Malvina Lobel and Jacob Cone. Read more about her life and that of others, an see lovely photographs of Goldie, Edythe, Marty and Goldie and Edythe's family.

 

 

 
 

Education

In this educational series, the Museum of the Yiddish Theatre strives to share with its followers an array of Yiddish plays -- not the scripts of the plays themselves, but synopses, i.e. summaries of the actions of the plays, as well as other interesting information about the productions, such as the names of those in the cast, critics' reviews of the production, still photographs from the show and the like. It is hoped that you, the valued museum "visitor," will read each of the Museum's presentations with care and use your imagination to optimal effect.

You may like to imagine yourself as an attendee of a certain production: you might want to consider what was occurring in the world (or in the city) during that time, even what might have been going on within your own family the night of the performance. Perhaps, by participating in this experience, you also might gain the desire to learn more about the playwright and their own life experience that might have influenced their writings or the subject matter of the play, e.g. the Russian Revolution, Jewish family life in Europe or in the United States, a religious theme, or simply the Jewish experience. The Museum hopes that all of this will enlighten you and pique your interest in the Yiddish theatre ... Here you can learn about more than eighty Yiddish theatre productions ...

 

 




 

 

 

 


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