Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


"Yiddish Musical Theatre Group"
(Philadelphia, PA)

The group experienced a long battle with the desire to create a semi-professional Yiddish theatre in Philadelphia. When the attempt came, due to material reasons, it was not submitted [?], closed the group and attracted the singer Avraham Furman, and the pianist Yehudis Keselman and began to perform in a different program of Goldfaden, Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, the Tunkler, Moshe Nadir, as well in sketches of modern humorists about American and Israeli life, musical scenes and solo singing of general Yiddish theatre repertoire and Hebrew and Yiddish folk songs.

The group does not use any English in its performances, and this is precisely its main force for success. Besides Philadelphia, the group performed four times in Baltimore, two times in Washington, Detroit, and in New Haven, as well as in Harrisburg, Allentown, York, Bethlehem, Easton, Norwich, New York, Miami, Colorado, and in the summer in the mountains.

The group also manages its own sets, props, lighting, microphones, and appropriate costumes.

The goal of the groups is to ring the Yiddish word and song through acting in the distant communities, and to separate organizations.

Most of the time the group performed in Jewish community centers or temples, at meetings or special arrangements undertaken by Jewish organizations that used to use the English language exclusively, but their programs would be conducted entirely in Yiddish, including enormous speeches. The best sign of this are the countless praise and thank you letters from the community centers, B'nai B'rith lodges, sisterhoods of temples, congregations and the Board of Rabbis of Philadelphia.

Khayele Ash writes:

"Our success comes to us, as we work with exceptional love and respect. Jews are truly hungry for Yiddish theatre and are very thankful when we come to them with a Yiddish production. We believe and see it, that with Yiddish theatre one can evoke much more interest in Yiddish cultural values, for which a great portion of the Americanized Jewish generation is, regrettably, entirely estranged. Our solution is through the Yiddish theatre to remind the older generation of their culture, and the younger to be instructed and familiarized with our Yiddish cultural treasures."

In 1965 the group, for the first time in the history of television in America, performed with a purely Yiddish program in Philadelphia on Channel 6. The program was dedicated to the Yiddish theatre. In 1966 they performed in Philadelphia on the local channel 29 with a Yiddish program -- "50 Years Without Sholem Aleichem". The reaction was such that the program was repeated twice. In 1967 they again performed on the same television [station] with a program dedicated to the nineteenth anniversary of the Land of Israel. Also the program in the span of one month was rebroadcast twice.

Sh.E. from Khayele Ash.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5965.

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