From the Levinson-Krupp Library November 2017

Contributed by the Levinson-Krupp Library
(Hours: 9 am-noon, Monday & Thursday or upon request)

At the last Seniors lunch, Mr. Herb Latner talked about his experiences with the New York Yiddish Theater that flourished in the 1900s. We have some books on the story and history of the glory days of Yiddish theater, and they are all located in the 902.02 area of the Library.

However, this month, we would like to present the DVDs in our library that go back to this period of glory:


When a father breaks his promise and forbids the son of a close friend to marry his daughter, the would-be bridegroom kills himself in desperation – but not before striking an unholy deal with the powers of darkness. Soon, his spirit possesses the heart of his beloved on the eve of her wedding to another. This production is from the ArchIve of American Television Presents with Sidney Lumet as director.





This documentary chronicles the early 20th-century halcyon days of Yiddish theater in New York City, featuring photos, music and archival clips from historic Yiddish films, as well as candid interviews with luminaries such as Isaac Bashevis Singer. Narrated by noted Broadway and Hollywood actor Herschel Bernardi, the program also includes among others performances by Paul Muni, Molly Picon, Maurice Schwartz.



Wistful and melancholy recollections of Yiddish theatre are conveyed in this documentary which centers on the story of the Burstein family. The family honed their talents in New York and eventually became stars of the genre as they traveled around the world, acting, singing, dancing and telling jokes in Yiddish. The film also chronicles the history of Yiddish theatre, from its beginnings to its eventual decline brought on by the Holocaust.





“My grandparents became mega-stars,” Michael Tilson Thomas remembers, “and found themselves smack in the public eye. Legions of crazed fans were obsessed with every detail of their work and their lives. It was a far cry from the simple Jewish family life in the Ukrainian villages of their origin.” In THE THOMASHEFSKYS, Tilson Thomas explores the lives of his grandparents, Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky, through a musical performance that features five performers and the New World Symphony orchestra.
Founding members of the Yiddish Theatre in America, the Thomashefskys owned theatres, published their own magazine, wrote columns in the popular Yiddish newspapers, sponsored and encouraged generations of young artists, brought countless Yiddish artists to America, tirelessly raised funds for progressive social causes and, through it all, were adventurous trendsetters. This story, reclaimed by Thomashefsky Project, presents a musical sound that few have heard, assimilating Eastern European klezmer and cantorial modes with American tones and rhythms. Over time, as the Jewish American music theater writers became absorbed in their new surroundings, they greatly influenced the American Songbook. All of this and more are captured in this stunning performance.



Three plays starring Zero Motel, Nancy Walker and Sam Levene. From the Archive of American Television. All three plays, A Tale of Chelm, Bontche Schweig, and The High School are based on the stories written by Sholom Aleichem.





We hope you will enjoy these DVDs that bring you back to the glory days of Yiddish Theater.

Deborah, Sally and Charlotte

Remember, you can see what’s in the library on the website.