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The Yiddish Radio Hour


with your esteemed hosts


Zalmen & Celia



After their marriage in Mexico City in 1947, Zalmen Zylbercweig and his wife Celia (seen above) and her daughter Shirley, moved to New York City. At the time Zalmen was the editor for "Der amerikaner (The Jewish American)," a Jewish gazette based in New York City, from 1937-1948. Celia, as Celia Silver, became an excellent writer for the same publication, interviewing many well-known Yiddish personalities for her column "In der froyen-velt (In the Women's World)," such as Yiddish great Maurice Schwartz. However, she was known especially for her interviews of prominent women, such as actresses Molly Picon, Stella and Celia Adler and Gertrude Berg (from "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg").

Perhaps less than two years later, Zalmen received an offer to leave New York and move to Los Angeles, California, in order to launch his own Yiddish Radio Hour on the station KOWL. So he decided with his family to move to L. A., and there he and wife Celia broadcast their own Yiddish radio program, which broadcast both on weekdays and on Sunday. However, this was to be a short-lived experience.

In 1949, he moved to a home in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles with his family, where they built at their own expense a recording studio in the back of the family house, and the rest as they say, is history.

For the next twenty or so years, he and his lovely wife Celia broadcast their own daily (except Saturday) "Zylbercweig's Daily Yiddish and Jewish -English Radio Hour (The Yiddishe Shtunde)," on such Los Angeles radio stations as KALI and KBLA, usually for a half-hour during the week and an hour on Sunday.

Most of the programs were in Yiddish, and most all featured commentary, guest speakers, actors, composers, authors, poets, rabbis, politician, comedians, musicians and a number of personalities from the Yiddish stage. Whichever personality would come to Los Angeles, would come see the Zylbercweigs, visit their home and be interviewed in their studio.

Here at "On the Air!," the Museum of Family History is presenting to you rebroadcasts of some of the Zylbercweig radio programs, mostly composed of partial or complete rebroadcasts, each one for your listening pleasure. Here there will be included audio files that were mostly likely part of a broadcast but exists now on its own, as a single recording.

Whether or not you can understand the Yiddish language, you have a unique opportunity to be transported back in time, and get a feel for the Jewish Los Angeles of the '50s and '60s, and gain a sense of the heart and soul that Zalmen and Celia put into their radio work, a labor of love. It should be noted that at the same period of time he and Celia were broadcasting their programs, Zalmen was working on the next five volumes of his magnificent opus, the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre." While Zalmen was working and traveling to accomplish this dream, Celia took charge of the broadcasting, meeting the guests, meeting with sponsors, etc.

Some segments of the broadcasts will be in English, but most will be purely in Yiddish. The Museum is looking for volunteers to translate transcripts of their radio programs from Yiddish to English, so if there is any one who wishes to do so, or wishes to donate funds to the Museum so that a professional translator may be paid for their efforts, please contact us.

Here is a listing of broadcast dates and or topics of the shows, as well as segments that exist as separate recordings, which are not associated with any particular show, at least to my knowledge:

  1. 1959: Zalmen Zylbercweig Receives an Award on air from the Los Angeles City Council fior his work on his "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre."

  2. October 12, 1969

  3. December 10, 1967

  4. June 23, 1968

  5. August 18, 1968

  6. September 1964: the Histadrut organization testimonial dinner, honoring Zalmen Zylbercweig, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday

  7. Circa 1964: Yosele Mlotek interviews Zalmen Zylbercweig for his WEVD Arbeter Ring radio program.

  8. September 1982: Seymour Rechtzeit and Miriam Kressyn's "Memories of the Theatre: Past and Present" on WEVD radio: Today's program honors the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" editor Zalmen Zylbercweig on the tenth-anniversary of his passing.

  9. 1964: Renown singer and actress Fraydele Oysher visits the Zylbercweig Studio.

  10. August 25, 1968

  11. October 5, 1969

  12. October 19, 1969

  13. Dzigan and Schumacher (comedic duo) (3 recordings)

  14. Justice Louis Brandeis (series of three 7-8 min. talks, in English, about his life as an attorney, as a Jew and Zionist, and as a great jurist. From the St. Louis and Los Angeles Hadassah chapters.

  15. The Golden Anniversary Celebration of Jacob and Vera Weiss at the Shrine Auditorium in 1962. Zylbercweig was the toastmaster. In Yiddish and English. In two parts.

  16. A Middle School Graduation, Los Angeles

  17. May 13, 1956 (Mother's Day)

  18. Zalmen Zylbercweig's Phone Call With His Mother in Europe (4 mins.)

  19. Goldfaden Theatre

  20. Zalmen Zylbercweig Interviews Yiddish Actor Joseph Buloff

  21. An Interview (in English) of Zalmen Zylbercweig by a Dr. Zweigm (sp)

  22. Various vocals and choirs

  23. Dinner in Israel, perhaps honoring Zalmen Zylbercweig, 1958

  24. Celia Silver's Literary Recording

  25. Two Commentaries on Theodor Herzl and Zionism (in English)

  26. Two Poems About New York City's Second Avenue

  27. Rabbinical Commentary on Shavuous (in English)

  28. Dr. A.S. Yuries (sp). What is This About?

  29. The Importance of Yiddish Translation (in English)

  30. A Celebration of Purim, a Children's Purim Play (mostly in English)


So now, please enjoy the shows!



Steven Lasky

Founder and Director
Museum of the Yiddish Theatre



Museum of the Yiddish Theatre. All rights reserved.