Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Celia Zuckerberg-Zylbercweig


Celia was born on 8 January 1905 in Chelm, Poland. Her father was a contractor for the government buildings. She completed Clara Morgenstern's private folkshul, where she also had received her Jewish studies. Then she completed the eight-class philological gymnasium "Stefan Tsarnetski," and she continued her Jewish studies privately with Feivel Fried. As a member of "Hashomer Hatzair" she participated in a Hebrew biblical one-acter by teacher Vadilovski, and since 1920 in the offerings of the dramatic section of "Hashomer Hatzair" and other drama circles in the plays "Bar kokhba" ("Dinah"), "Ash reh" ("Shulamis"), "El nhrut bbl" ("Palmira"), "Der vilder mentsh" ("Liza"), and in the title role of Orshansky's "Anna" and Gordin's "Sappho," as well as performing with declamations during city celebrations.

In 1923 she traveled to Warsaw, where she had earlier studied singing with a private teacher, then for a short time in the city conservatory, and from there in 1924 she traveled to Essen, Germany, where she again studied singing.

In 1925 she immigrated to Argentina, where she entered into the troupe of the "Ombu" Theatre (Teatro Ombú --ed.), and she acted there as a prima donna with the actors Boris Auerbach, Esther Perlman and Jacob Shefner, Itzhak Deutsch et al, in the operettas and with Rudolph Zaslavsky in dramas ("Berta" in "Foter", "Regina" in "Di geyser" and "Hodl" in "Tuviya der milkhiker"), then she toured across the Argentinean province,


married actor Leon Zuckerberg and appeared in 1927 with him and the actors Morris and Rosa Brown, Morris and Genya Gelber, and Aaron Aleksandrov in a tour across South and Central America (Chile, Peru, Cuba and Mexico), where she performed in soubrette and prima donna roles. In 1928 she acted in several cities in Texas, United States, and in 1929 she was engaged by Moshe Schorr in Baltimore, where she performed in Anshel Schorr's "Dos yidishe meydl." Celia acted with Clara Young, Leon Blank, then performed in Detroit on Grushko's Yiddish radio and also participated in a concert in the local Yiddish theatre. She traveled back with her husband to Mexico, where she acted with the powers there and with the guest-stars Joseph Shoengold, Frances Adler, Jacob and Charlotte Goldstein, Jacob Zanger and Sylvia Fishman, Janet Paskewitz and Maurice Krohner, Clara Young, Betty Frank and Benjamin Blank. After the death of her husband (1935), she acted with Abe Lax, Jacob Berlin, Zygmunt Turkow and Esther Perlman, and the newcomer performers Bessie, Leon and Malka Rabinowitz, and afterwards by themselves led a theatre, bringing in the guest-stars Ethel and Abe Dorf, Abraham Teitelbaum, Isidore Meltzer, later going over to the newly created building for Yiddish theatre with local actors and with the guest-stars Ludwig Satz (acting as their partner in the comedy and operetta), Rose Wallerstein and Oscar Ostroff, Yetta Zwerling and Seymour Rechtzeit.

Returning, finally ending her acting in the theatre, she threw herself into society work, helping to found the reading circle and she often writes in the local press about the problems of Jewish culture. She also often is the person in charge of the receptions for the literary guests.

In 1947 Celia married Zalmen Zylbercweig and went over to New York, where she performed on the Yiddish radio and directed under the name of Celia Silver a woman's page in "Amerikaner," where she also published a range of character portrayals of Bina Abramowitz, Miriam Kressyn, Esther Hirshbein, Paulina Kobrin, Malka Lee, Shifra Weiss, Emma Sheiver, Shoshana Damari, Feigele Panitz, Bessie Thomashefsky, Rose Shomer Bachelis and Gertrude Berg.

Since August 1948 Celia had directed under the name Celia Silver, together with her husband, the daily Yiddish radio in Los Angeles, in which she has from time to time a special women's program, interviews, and she performs in song, in recitations of Yiddish poetry, and in dramatizations, especially from Fannie Edelman's book "Der shpigel fun lebn (The Mirror of Life)."

Celia performed in the yearly concerts that were arranged for the radio, in various one-acters; she had acted in Peretz Hirshbein's "A farvorfen vinkl (A Faraway Corner)" (Director: Elihu Tenenholz), Alkan's "Doktor ratevet" (Director: Moshe Strassberg), and on 18 April 1953 in the Wilshire Ebell Theatre the chief role of "Minke di dinstmoyd" in Kobrin's "Dem doktors veyber" (Director: Elihu Tenenholz), for the five-year jubilee of their radio program, and on 25 January 1958 in the Wilshire Ebell Theatre the title role of Gordin's "Mirele Efros" (Director: Zalmen Zylbercweig), for their ten-year jubilee on the radio.

In 1958 Celia visited Europe and the land of Israel and there made recordings, speaking in Yiddish with the city director, among them President Ben-Zvi, his wife Rachel Yanait, Dr. Juris, Zrubbl and M. Tsanin, who later were heard on her radio programs. She came back and returned to perform with reports on a whole range of Israeli activities.

Celia's daughter, Shirele (Shirley), has performed with her in children roles and used to perform in concerts as a pianist.

M. E.

  • Finf yorker yubl fun zilbertsveyg's teglekhe yidishe radio-sheh", Los Angeles, 1953.

  • Melkh Bakaltshuk-felin, "Chelm Yizkor Book", Johannesburg, 1954, p. 231.

  • "Tsen yoriker yubl fun zilbertsveyg's teglekhe yidishe radio-sheh", Los Angeles, 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 2239.

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