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.
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
Posters from Productions Across North
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.
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
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."
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!
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
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.
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
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.
Big Ads: How the
Yiddish Theatre Publicized their Productions
opened on March 1, 2022
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.
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.
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 ...
opened on February 1, 2022
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.
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
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 ...
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.
Expands to Brooklyn
from the "Museum
of Family History Comes to Brooklyn"
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.
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
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 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
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
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.
Yiddish Art Theatre was located in New York City,
though the troupe, over the years, would move their
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
Along Came Goldie ...
opened July 3, 2021
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.
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
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
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 ...