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September 1: Adrienne Cooper

Adrienne Cooper, co-founder with Henry Sapoznik of Klezkamp, the annual week-long celebration of Yiddish music and culture, and an international diva of the klezmer revival, was born in Oakland on this date in 1946. Cooper was a scholar as well as a highly original interpreter of the music and always enhanced her performances with rich […]

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July 7: Abe Ellstein on Second Avenue

Abraham Ellstein, one of the “big four” composers (along with Sholom Secunda, Joseph Rumshinsky, and Alexander Olshanetsky) of New York’s Second Avenue Yiddish theater, was born on the Lower East Side on this date in 1907. Ellstein was a young prodigy who trained at Juilliard. He was an arranger, composer, and accompanist for Molly Picon during […]

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University doublespeak, a loving memoir of a victim of terrorism, radical Yiddish humor – celebrating three new books from Blue Thread

On Thursday, May 23, a discerning crowd of literature-lovers gathered at The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture to celebrate the publication of three new works from Blue Thread, the book imprint of Jewish Currents. Editor Lawrence Bush hosted the event, which featured wine, cheese, and many other nosheray, all enjoyed amidst lively banter and good […]

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January 31: The First Lady of Yiddish Theater

Yiddish actress Celia Adler died at 89 on this date in 1979. Adler’s father was the great Jacob Adler, the foremost actor on the Yiddish stage, and she began her career at age 4 with a part in the Yiddish King Lear written explicitly for her by playwright Jacob Gordin. Adler spent a year working […]

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October 31: Joseph Papp

Joseph Papp (Papirofsky), the founder of the Public Theater on Astor Place in New York, which launched many innovative and significant theater works from 1967 onwards, died on this date in 1991. Papp founded the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1954 and was granted the use of Central Park for free performances of Shakespeare’s plays […]

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August 27: The Federal Theatre Project

The Federal Theatre Project, a program of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration that included a Yiddish-language component as well as an African-American theater group, was founded on this date in 1935. The project’s purpose was to give work to unemployed theater professionals and provide cultural enrichment to the American working class. However, the project […]

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November 1: Sholem Asch

Sholem Asch, the most internationally known and widely translated writer of Yiddish novels, plays, and stories, was born in Poland on this date in 1880. His 1907 drama, God of Vengeance, which focused on religious hypocrisy and featured a brothel and a lesbian scene, was translated into German, Russian, Hebrew, Polish, Italian, Czech, and Norwegian, […]

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July 24: Raisins and Almonds

Abraham Goldfaden, the “father of modern Yiddish theater,” was born in Russia (today’s Ukraine) on this date in 1840. Goldfaden was a poet in Hebrew and Yiddish, many of whose poems were set to music and became popular songs. In 1876 he built upon his popularity to launch the world’s first professional Yiddish theater troupe […]

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June 12: Modicut Theater

Yiddish puppeteer and artist Yosl Cutler died on this date in 1935. Cutler was championed as an artist by the great Yiddish satirist Moishe Nadir, and then teamed up with artist Zuni Maud in the early 1920s in the offices of der groyse kundes (the Big Stick), a leading Yiddish satirical journal. Together they opened […]

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May 21: Ida Kaminska

Ida Kaminska, theater and film star of the Yiddish-speaking world for seven decades, died on this date in 1980. The daughter of well-known Yiddish theater professionals — her mother, Ester Rokhl Kaminska, was the first actress to bring introspective acting and serious theatrical teamwork to the Yiddish stage — Kaminska began her stage life at […]

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