The Unpublished Works of
Zalmen Zylbercweig


Zalmen Zylbercweig was the editor of the six-volume "Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre)", a compendium of more than 2,800 Yiddish-language biographies and histories of those once involved in some way with the Yiddish theatre.

 The first volume of the Lexicon was published in New York in 1931, the sixth in Mexico City in 1969. Zylbercweig had completed work on a seventh volume, but due to his untimely death in Los Angeles in 1972, this final volume was never published and remains in galley form within various repositories around the world.

Zylbercweig had been working on another book about the Yiddish theatre, more specifically a Yiddish-language history of Maurice Schwartz's famed New York "Yiddish Art Theatre" troupe. The galleys for "Yiddish Art Theatre in America" also  lies as galleys within various repositories around the world, until now "never seeing the light of day", so to speak.

The unpublished book entitled "The Yiddish Art Theatre in America" (referred heretofore as "YATA"), is that it is a history of Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre as it was during its first six years of existence, i.e. from 1918 to 1924. Within YATA there exists some seven hundred and forty-two pages, yet it is unknown whether there is more to this book. Inquiries have been made to another repository to see if more pages do exist, and if so and they can be obtained, they will be added to what the Museum currently presents to you.

photo, right: Zalmen Zylbercweig, 1941.


At the virtual Museum of Family History, we are making these book galleys available to you in the hope that it will keep the memory alive of those once involved in the Yiddish theatre. It is hoped that these two works will help you -- perhaps in your research of the Yiddish theatre, or perhaps simply to give you a glimpse into the history of the once-popular Yiddish theatre. This is part of the mission of the Museum of Family History, i.e. to keep alive the memory and enhance the appreciation of Jewish culture, not only as it once existed, but as it exists today. The Museum also wishes to honor the memory of Lexicon editor Zalmen Zylbercweig who had dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the preservation of Jewish culture and the history of the Yiddish theatre.



Within these two books, each made available to you as single PDF files, you may search among their many pages for information you are interested in. In "YATA", you may read about nearly one hundred of the YAT productions and many reviews that were written by critics and others in newspapers, journals and books. Both aforementioned books are in Yiddish, so be forewarned. A project to translate into English the seven volumes of the "Lexicon" is underway at the Museum. These translations will go online as the project proceeds. The availability of these translations will be announced at some time in the near future.

In the unpublished Volume 7 of the "Lexicon", you may read more than one hundred and twenty biographies, mostly of individuals once involved in the Yiddish theatre.

photo, left: Graphic design representing the "Leksikon fun yidishn teater".
Drawing of playwrights Jacob Gordin, bottom left, and Abraham Goldfaden, upper right.

Notes on "YATA"

As these pages come from galleys that haven't had a final proofreading, i.e. not from any published book, you will find imperfections within some of the pages, e.g. missing or inverted page numbers, the occasional inverted piece of text or the missing photograph. Additionally, past PDF page 265, the page numbering changes, e.g. the first page after page 265 is labeled "2-F". There are also a number of missing pages, but this is unavoidable for the time being.

If you would like to learn more about Maurice Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre, the Museum encourages you to visit its webpage of YAT productions ("Casts and Characters") which includes a listing of most of the plays performed by the troupe. This may serve as a finding aid or guide for you in your quest to learn more about the YAT. These listings include the name of each play (given in both English and transliterated Yiddish), the date of the first performance, the author of the play, the names and functions of those who worked behind-the-scenes, and the theatre location. Also included are listing of cast members and their roles for more than seventy percent of the more than one hundred YAT productions. You will also enjoy seeing photographs of the actors in their roles, as well as scenes from plays, during your visit to the "Casts and Characters" page. Listings of more of the YAT productions will be added over time. It should be mentioned that although the aforementioned Zylbercweig unpublished book discusses only the first five seasons of the YAT, this list is all-encompassing.

As mentioned above, the Museum is in the process of translating the more than 2,800 individual biographies as found within Zylbercweig's "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre". There are six volumes that have been published to date (in New York City, Warsaw and Mexico City) between the years of 1931 and 1969. There are also galleys of parts of an unpublished seventh volume. A database, currently non-searchable by the public, has been created for these seven volumes. Hopefully an online, searchable database will be created in the future so that you may personally do a search. It should be noted that the captions to the many photographs found within these seven volumes have already been translated, but are also not yet online or searchable by you.

This non-searchable database of more than 2,800 individual names (and more than fifty theatrical organizations) include the following information:

Surname, given name, other name(s), town and country of birth, and date of birth and death. Also for each entry, there exists two page numbers: one is the page number on which the biography begins within the original hardcover Yiddish version of the book; the other is the beginning page number of the biography as it exists on the PDF file, which makes it infinitely more easy to locate a particular page. It is hoped that at some time in the future, a free, searchable online database can be created so you needn't contact the Museum whenever you have an inquiry.

Look for an announcement about the availability of the English translation for hundreds of individual biographies from Zylbercweig's "Lexicon" at some time in the near future.

Most importantly, the Museum is seeking volunteers to assist in the translations from Yiddish to English, of both YATA and the seven volumes of Zylbercweig's "Lexicon". If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Museum at As the Museum does not and cannot pay people to translate these biographies, it relies on volunteers to do the many translations.

To view Zylbercweig's "Yiddish Art Theatre in America", please click here.

*** It is important to note that the speed of any potential download of this 180 MB PDF file will vary, depending on your computer. Fully downloading this file may take ten minutes or longer. Also the PDF search function on this file does not search Hebrew/Yiddish fonts, and it will only be useful, in this instance, to search for a particular page number as found within the original Yiddish book. If you have any questions about any of the content of these two volumes, please contact the museum with your specific request.

To view Zylbercweig's seventh volume of his "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", please click here. This file is 130 MB in size.






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These two unpublished works come to you courtesy of the estate of Zalmen Zylbercweig and YIVO (Institute for Jewish Research).

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