Lives in the Yiddish Theatre
Volume 8



The Yiddishpiel Theatre

Yiddishpiel - the Yiddish Theatre in Israel, was established in 1987 with the mission of restoring to Yiddish, the language that had almost disappeared: its charm, its popularity, and its glory, and to make it the focus of a rich and significant culture that is an important foundation stone in the history of the Jewish nation.

Yiddish lives once again on our stage, expressing the wisdom of those who are no longer with us.

"In a world where conscience and compassion have sunk to new depths, Yiddish has not died, Yiddish has become the soul" (Haim Hefer).

Yiddishpiel was founded by its Artistic Director Shmuel Atzmon-Wircer, in response to a vital need to re-establish the lost honor of the Yiddish language and its culture, and to revive it. His mission, that at first looked impossible, was not well received and fell on deaf ears, but behind him stood first-class social, financial and artistic public figures, from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, headed by the then Mayor Shlomo Lahat (Tchitch), an enthusiastic supporter of this idea. All these made the dream of Shmuel Atzmon and his troupe of actors a reality. By persevering, they succeeded in preserving and reviving this cultural and historical treasure and have broadened the scope of their activities.

In November 2011, Sassi Keshet was appointed the Executive and Artistic Director of the theatre replacing Shmuel Atzmon who was designated "President Emeritus" by the public council, and he remains involved in activities promoting the Yiddishpiel Theatre.

More than eighty new productions have been staged by the Yiddishpiel Theatre until today, with performances throughout the country. The theatre has earned international recognition for its achievements as a result of its steady participation in dozens of international festivals the world over in such cities as Montreal, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Los Angeles, Wiesbaden, Kiev, Vilna, Moscow, Berlin, Krakow, and many others.

The repertoire of the theatre is extensive and varied. It ranges from the classic works of Sholem Aleichem, Avraham Goldfaden, Sholem Asch and Jacob Gordin, to Itzik Manger, Issaac Bashevis-Singer, and Shai Agnon, and includes Efraim Kishon, Yehoshua Sobol, Yosef Bar-Yosef, Moti Averbuch, Aharon Meged, Sami Gruniman and others. In addition, world-class productions are staged including works by Neil Simon, Alexander Galin, Edmond Morris, Herb Gardner, and others.

The finest actors have performed in the Yiddishpiel Theatre from its very onset, including veteran Yiddish actors Yaacov Bodo, Anabella, Uri Ayalon-Kowalski, and Monika Vardimon. In recent years, they have been joined by younger actors, Israeli-born as well as new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, from Romania and from Argentina. Most of them learned Yiddish while performing at Yiddishpiel.

The Yiddishpiel Theatre is thriving and successful. Yiddishpiel puts on an alternating series of productions of different genres, produces three to four new shows each year, and gradually increases its audience. Moreover, each year it attracts younger and younger theatregoers to its audience. In addition, tourists of all ages who visit Israel from Europe, the United States of America, Australia, and South Africa come steadily to our theatre during their stay and become excited from their first encounter with their mother tongue. Yiddishpiel is a part of the rich culture the diversified Israeli theatre has to offer, and it is the only Yiddish theatre in Israel.

In May 2009, a "Yiddish Day" took place in the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament) marking the twentieth anniversary of the Yiddishpiel Theatre and the one hundred and fiftieth birthday of Sholem Aleichem, at which time a lobby was established to advance the Yiddish language and culture in the State of Israel in the twenty-first century.

The theatre schedules various activities: some are a contribution to the community, and others help preserve the Yiddish language and culture for generations to come:

The "Theatre of Benevolence" brings more than one hundred and forty shows each year to old age homes and geriatric institutions all over the country. Each week, groups of actors perform before senior citizens who are no longer able to attend the theatre auditoriums.

Every year, the theatre puts on special events on the occasion of Yom Hashoah, the memorial day for the Holocaust victims for whom Yiddish was their main language. These evenings are in Yiddish, with simultaneous translation into Hebrew.

The Yiddishpiel Theatre, in association with the Society and Youth Administration of the Ministry of Education and the National Culture Basket, work together to offer young people, pupils, and educators in Yiddish culture, Yiddish productions with simultaneous translation into Hebrew, or the play itself is in Hebrew or Hebrew intermingled with Yiddish.

Throughout the years, Yiddishpiel has been awarded many prizes, including the "Itzik Manger" prize (1977), the "Clore Fund" prize (1998), the Israel Theatre award for its contribution to advancing Yiddish culture and thereby enriching the Israeli theatre (1999), the Israeli theatre prize for best comedy of the year "Golden Boys" (2001), a "Life Achievement Award" for the director of the theatre, Shmuel Atzmon (2004), for actor Yankele Alperin (2001), and to the actor Yaacov Bodo (2008), and it was awarded the Israeli theatre prize for best entertaining production of the year "Shining Stars" (2010).

Yiddishpiel productions are subtitled with simultaneous translations in Hebrew and in Russian.

Current "Lexicon" Biographies for the Yiddishpiel Theatre

Alperin, Yankele


Atzmon, Anat

Atzmon-Wircer, Shmuel

Ben-David, Samadar

Bodo, Yaacov

Debal-Shor, Elian

Eilat, Yoni

Engel, Dori

Fisher, Dudu

Furman, Ariel

Giladi, Motti

Golan, Ofer

Kashker, Andrey

Kedar, Amitai

Keshet, Sassi

Kovalski, Uri

Ragendorfer, Miri

Rapaport, Yuval

Raviv-Tzur, Hila

Rozen, Jonathan

Sahar, Lora

Segal-Cohen, Einat

Shafir, Nivi

Stepanov, Irma

Treitman, Israel

Wardimon, Monica






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Courtesy of the Yiddishpiel, the Yiddish Theatre in Israel.

Copyright Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.