Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Seymour Rechtzeit


Born on January 18, 1912 in Pietrkow, Poland.

His father was a cantor. After his son’s birth, he moved to Lodz.  There the child studied in a a cheder and in a state-run school. As a child he joined his brother Yankev and sister Helen in concerts and even appeared in one-man performances as a “wunderkind” (a child protégé). Later, he traveled throughout Europe, and in 1920 he came to America. 

In December 1923, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes submitted a special law to the congressional committee on immigration allowing Rechtzeit to remain in America with immigrant status. In order to further support this special request, Rechtzeit was asked to appear at the White House, on December 21, 1923 before President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge in his role as a “wunderkind” in a concert of Italian, English and Yiddish songs.

Shortly thereafter, Rechtzeit appeared in concert in New York City traveling with the “Three Kids Circle” in an English-language act.  Later he appeared as a child actor in the Lenox Theatre. In 1924 he made his debut as “Shaikeh” in Bader-Rumshinsky’s “The Rabbi’s Niggun” in the Second Avenue Theatre. From that time on he was considered to be a legitimate actor.  During the 1925-1926 season he performed in the Lenox Theatre with Weintraub in the play “The Jewish Star”. 

He proceeded once again to appear in concert and from time to time he played a limited number of roles in a variety of theatres. From that time on he also presented concerts and from time to time he would appear in different theatres in familiar roles. In 1929-1930, he was engaged as a comedian in the Hopkinson Theatre. In 1930-31 he played in Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre. In the 1931-32 season he appeared at the Prospect Theatre, where he met Miriam Kressyn, whom he would later marry. In that same season (March 3, 1931) he joined the “Yiddish Actors Union”. 

From that time on, Rechtzeit performed either as a comedian or as an amateur at the Parkway, Hopkinson, Second Avenue and National Theatres with his wife Miriam Kressyn.

In 1936 Rechtzeit, along with Yetta Zwerling, made guest appearances in Mexico.

Rechtzeit appeared in the film “Shir hashirim” (Song of Songs) with Samuel Goldenburg in the role of Hymie.  He also played in “Her Second Mother” by Yitzhak Frankel and in “The Yiddish Melody (Der yidisher nigun)" by Chaim Tauber.

Rechtzeit was among the first singers on Yiddish radio and would continue as the oldest Yiddish radio program for more than twenty years with his program “The Melody Box” on radio station WEVD.  Rechzeit was also one of the first television performers to appear in Yiddish, at first by himself and later with his wife Miriam Kressyn.

 Rechtzeit recorded the following Yiddish recordings:  “Fartraybt di zorgn”, “Mirele”, “Bizt mayn kroyn”,”Dem rebns nign”, “Hartz mayns”, “Abisl freer”, Miami Beach Rhumba”, “Ich bin a nar”, “A heymisher bulgar”, “A meydele vi du”, A chasene in shtetl”, ”Tyoch, tyoch”, Freylach zol zayn”, “Filomar”, chassene lid”, “Azoi vi du bizt”,. “Meydele”, “Shtarker fun libe”, “Chupeh tanz”, “Der nayer sher”, “Der alter tzigayner”, Itzikl klezmer”, “Efent uf di tir”, “Keynmol”, freylach land”, “Kibe”, “Yidishkayt”, “Zlatopal”, “Mazel”, “Der eniverster vals”, “Tif vi di nakht”, “A hopkele”, “Du, di zun un di shtern”, “”Sholem tanz”, “Yingele”, “Veyn nit”, “Tzigayner nigunim”, “Hebrew Melody”, “Oy, volt ich gevolt”, "Yankele”, “Bizt mir mazeldik rochele”, “Rozhinkes mit mandlen”, “der yiddisher nign:”, “Ich hob dich tzufil lib”, "zog mir tzu”, “Farges mich nit”, “Mayn freylach lid”, “Shvartzet eygn”, “Tango margarita”, “Intermetza”, "Mayn shtetele belz (rhumba)”, “In der libe”, “Undzer yiddish folk”, “Shpil klezmer shpil”, “Ch’vell eybik dich gedenken”, “Shpet baynacht”, “Mayn hartz geyt mir oys far dir”, “Oy vey ireen”, “Tennessee Waltz”, “Azoy lang”, “Der shikr klapper”, “Keynmol nit gekusht”, “Ich vil dich libn”, “Mirage”, “Ich vil a veyter (waiter)”. Together with Miriam Kressyn, “du un ich”, “Bet mich abisele”, "Enjoy yourself”, “Tzena, Tzena”, “Ir zent farlibt”.  Together with the Begelman Sisters, “Der nyer shir”, and “Der alter tzigayner”.

Rechtzeit was a member of the executive committee of the “Radio Guild”, a member of the committee for the “Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre”, and since 1956 he was President of the Yiddish Actor’s Union.

  •  M. Yardeinii, The Second Yidishe artist, Kanader Odler, Montreal, March 1958.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2369.

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