Museum of
Family History



Yiddish World > Yiddish Theatre Houses



Descendants Talk About Their Famous Family Members
You may read the exhibition's introductory remarks about each family member(s) below. Then click on the link at the bottom of this page to begin your audio tour (please turn on your speakers). Then follow the earphones icons on each page to travel from one station to the next. You may, of course, choose to temporarily divert from your tour at any time.
The Fisher Family

Son Boris immigrated to America before the Second World War. His daughter Connie, whose love for the grandparents and aunts she never knew -- Herman, Liza Barska, Luba and Anka Fisher -- is unbounded, has chosen to pay tribute to her family via the Museum's "Fisher Family" exhibition. In the years before the war, each member of the Fisher family who lived in Warsaw, Poland at the time, took part in either the Yiddish theatre, film or song, in a Poland once rich and diverse in Yiddish culture. Each of the Fishers tragically met their end during the war, yet each had made their distinctive mark, forever etching in our collective Jewish memory their endearing contribution to the Jewish experience.




  David Pinski

David Pinski was a Yiddish playwright, novelist and editor. Born in Mohilev, Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), his plays probably were performed in English more often than any other Yiddish dramatist. In this exhibition, originally part of the Museum's "Great Artists" series, grandson Gabriel recalls his memory of his zeyde.

Although P. was fluent is several languages, he chose to write in Yiddish. According to an article in the Jerusalem Post in 1972, written by Sol Liptzin, "In the course of his eighty-seven years he enriched Yiddish with more than two hundred major contributions: plays, novels, short stories, travel sketches, memoirs, essays, poems." Many of his plays were published in English, as were two of his novels and many of his shorter works. His works were also published in Russian, German, and Hebrew. In addition to the numerous performances in the Yiddish theatre, Pinski's plays were performed in translation, e.g. "Der oytser (The Treasure)" was produced by Max Reinhardt in Berlin in the German language.



Leon and Celia Zuckerberg

Many of the Yiddish actors and actresses who have graced the world's stages often have traveled to the countries of Central and South America and Cuba in order to continue performing during their off-seasons, or simply to look for gainful employment in their profession, most often in the years before the Second World War.

Whether performing in a single country or in many countries as part of a large tour, the mostly Jewish crowds eagerly awaited their beloved Yiddish actors and actresses, many of whom made a name for themselves with theatre audiences.

One such couple who made such tours an important part of their life's work were the talented husband and wife acting team of Leon and Celia Zuckerberg. Though Leon passed away at an early age, both he and wife Celia have, by the body of their work left a legacy for all of their family to take immense pride in. In this exhibition, their daughter Shirley speaks of her dear parents.




Zalmen Zylbercweig

Zalmen Zylbercweig was the editor or author of more than thirty books relating to Yiddish culture and history. The most famous of his works, considered by many to be the "bible" of Yiddish theatre, is the six-volume "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", published between 1931 and 1969. The fifth volume of the Lexicon serves as a memorial book to nearly five hundred men or women, once associated with the Yiddish theatre in some way, who were tragically killed during the Holocaust.

Z. was born on 27 September 1894 in Ozorków, a town not far from Łódź, Poland. In 1896 his father moved the family to Łódź when Z. was only two years old. He was educated in Łódź, worked there in his father's bookstore, and in 1910 made his debut under the pseudonym of "Solomon" with a translation in the "Łódźer morgenblat" newspaper, as well as translations in various other publications. From 1915 to 1924 Z. was a collaborator and later a co-editor at the "Łódźer tagenblat", and there he published many critiques and reviews of Yiddish theatre productions. In 1924, Z. traveled to Eretz Yisrael as a correspondent for the Yiddish newspaper.


In 1947, Z. married Celia Zuckerberg, whose first husband was actor Leon Zuckerberg. They soon moved to Los Angeles, California, where they spent the rest of their lives. For more than twenty years, Zalmen and Celia were a team, broadcasting their own Yiddish radio program from the recording studio they built in the back of their home. These newly reformatted broadcasts can be found as as part the Museum's "On the Air!" feature, where Yiddish and English-language segments from these programs are rotated on a monthly basis and made available for all to freely enjoy at their leisure.



  Esta Salzman

Esta Salzman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where her father and her many brothers worked in some technical capacity within the Yiddish theatre.

She began her career in the Yiddish theatre as a young child, acting at the Liberty Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. This was the start of an illustrious career. She starred in many Yiddish plays throughout New York City, and she also acted in various Yiddish-language films including "The Jewish Melody".

She was once married to fellow actor David Lubritsky, whose sisters Fannie and Goldie also acted for many years in the Yiddish theatre.

Esta and Dave's son Jamie recalls fondly his memories of her parents.



Harry Jordan

Harry Jordan was born Hershel Zerdanowski on May 27, 1895 in Skvira, Kiev Guberniya. He, his parents and siblings immigrated to the United States via Philadelphia in 1906. Here, Jordan graduated from public school and in 1913 began to play in Jewish varieties in Philadelphia. Afterwards for five years he performed sketches in English vaudeville, and he also performed in plays in dramatic clubs. In 1927-1928, Jordan played in the legitimate Yiddish theatre in Baltimore; in 1928-1929 he played in Detroit and Toronto, and in 1929-1930 he performed in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

His daughter Leah warmly recalls the memories she has of her father.






Jacob Rotbaum

Jacob Rotbaum was a Jewish theatrical director and painter. In 1925 he made his directing debut, acting as an assistant director in Warsaw in the Azazel theatre.

In 1928, he was commissioned by a private Jewish film producer from New York to direct a documentary film about Jewish life in the small towns and villages of Poland.

In or the early part of 1929, after returning from Moscow where he had completed drama studies and familiarized himself with the workings and direction methods of the famous Soviet theatres of Meyerhold, Tairov and Stanisławski, R. began his professional career staging Eugene O'Neill plays with the famed Vilna Troupe. 

In 1938, R. directed a few Yiddish shows with P.I.A.T., a Parisian avant-garde Jewish theatre. In 1940 he was invited by Yiddish great Maurice Schwartz to direct his Yiddish Art Theatre troupe in three plays.

From 1942 to 1948 R. directed in New York, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, London, Paris and Israel. In 1949 he returned to Poland to direct Yiddish theatre, at the invitation of Ida Kaminska. In 1952, he became the artistic director of the Teatr Polski in Wroclaw, and staged international dramatists in the repertory, rather than Jewish or Yiddish ones. He was granted many awards and distinctions. In 1968, due to the anti-Semitic climate in Poland he, like so many other patriotic Polish Jews, had to leave the theatre. This was a deep shock for him. From then on he would never work in any Polish theatre again, and his productions in many European countries as well as in North and South America were exclusively of Jewish works. 

R. is best remembered for directing A Goldfadn kholem (A Goldfaden Dream), his most celebrated play, which he staged for over four decades all over the world.

Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
Biographies of Interest:


Please turn on your speakers.

The "Lives in the Yiddish Theatre"
Audio Tour Begins Here.

  Contact Us   Site Map  

Floor Plans


Current Exhibitions

  © Museum of Family History. All rights reserved.