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The Yiddish Radio Hour


with your esteemed hosts


Zalmen & Celia



After their marriage in Mexico City in 1947, Zalmen Zylbercweig and his wife Celia (seen above) and her daughter Shirley, moved to New York City. At the time Zalmen was the editor for "Der amerikaner (The Jewish American)", a Jewish gazette based in New York City, from 1937-1948. Celia, as Celia Silver, became an excellent writer for the same publication, interviewing many well-known Yiddish personalities for her column "In der froyen-velt (In the Women's World)", such as Yiddish great Maurice Schwartz. However, she was known especially for her interviews of prominent women, such as actresses Molly Picon, Stella and Celia Adler and Gertrude Berg (from "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg").

Perhaps less than two years later, Zalmen received an offer to leave New York and move to Los Angeles, California, in order to launch his own Yiddish Radio Hour on the station KOWL. So he decided with his family to move to L. A., and there he and wife Celia broadcast their own Yiddish radio program, which broadcast both on weekdays and on Sunday. However, this was to be a short-lived experience.

In 1949, he moved to a home in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles with his family, where they built at their own expense a recording studio in the back of the family house, and the rest as they say, is history.

For the next twenty or so years, he and his lovely wife Celia broadcast their own daily (except Saturday) "Zylbercweig's Daily Yiddish and Jewish -English Radio Hour (The Yiddishe Shtunde)", on such Los Angeles radio stations as KALI and KBLA, usually for a half-hour during the week and an hour on Sunday.

Most of the programs were in Yiddish, and most all featured commentary, guest speakers, actors, composers, authors, poets, rabbis, politician, comedians, musicians and a number of personalities from the Yiddish stage. Whichever personality would come to Los Angeles, would come see the Zylbercweigs, visit their home and be interviewed in their studio.

Here at "On the Air!", the Museum of Family History is presenting to you rebroadcasts of some of the Zylbercweig radio programs, mostly composed of partial or complete rebroadcasts, each one for your listening pleasure. Whether or not you can understand the Yiddish language, you have a unique opportunity to be transported back in time, and get a feel for the Jewish Los Angeles of the '50s and '60s, and gain a sense of the heart and soul that Zalmen and Celia put into their radio work, a labor of love. It should be noted that at the same period of time he and Celia were broadcasting their programs, Zalmen was working on the next five volumes of his magnificent opus, the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre". While Zalmen was working and traveling to accomplish this dream, Celia took charge of the broadcasting, meeting the guests, meeting with sponsors, etc.

You may click on the "enter >>" link below to begin your journey through the marvelous world of the Zylbercweigs. Each program will be changed on a periodic basis, and will be available to you for that time your own listening pleasure. Some segments of the broadcasts will be in English, but most will be purely in Yiddish. The Museum is looking for volunteers to translate transcripts of their radio programs from Yiddish to English, so if there is any one who wishes to do so, or wishes to donate funds to the Museum so that a professional translator may be paid for their efforts, please contact us.

So now, please enjoy the shows!

You can listen to the current series or radio recordings, whose links appear on consecutive pages, by clicking here. Alternatively, here is a listing of broadcast dates and or topics of the shows:

  1. 1959: Zalmen Zylbercweig Receives an Award on air from the Los Angeles City Council fior his work on his "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre."

  2. October 12, 1969

  3. December 10, 1967

  4. June 23, 1968

  5. August 18, 1968

  6. September 1964: the Histadrut organization testimonial dinner, honoring Zalmen Zylbercweig, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.

  7. Circa 1964: Yosele Mlotek interviews Zalmen Zylbercweig for his WEVD Arbeter Ring radio program.

  8. September 1982: Seymour Rechtzeit and Miriam Kressyn's "Memories of the Theatre: Past and Present" on WEVD radio: Today's program honors the "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" editor Zalmen Zylbercweig on the tenth-anniversary of his passing.

  9. 1964: Renown singer and actress Fraydele Oysher visits the Zylbercweig Studio.


Steven Lasky

Founder and Director
Museum of Family History






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