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March 4: Romantic Idols of the Yiddish Theater

March 4, 2015

MNY264376Miriam Kressyn, who with her husband of fifty years, Seymour Rechtzeit (often spelled Rexite), became a beloved couple of the Yiddish theater stage, was born in Bialystok, Poland on this date in 1910 (some sources say 1912). Thirteen years later she came to America and went on scholarship to the New England Conservatory of Music. She became a leading lady with the company of the legendary Aaron Lebedeff in Chicago, and joined the Hebrew Actors Union, of which Rechtzeit would serve as long-time president, in 1930. Kressyn was fluent in six languages, an accomplished dancer, an excellent singer, a beloved radio host on WEVD, a film actress, a playwright, a theater director, and a drama teacher at Queens College. Rechtzeit was a very popular presence on the radio, with eighteen half-hour shows every week during the 1940s and ’50s. Many of these featured popular songs translated into Yiddish by Kressyn. Kressyn died in 1996; Rechtzeit at 91 in 2002. To hear them singing together, look below.

“Yiddish is my world.” —Miriam Kressyn