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Yiddish Theater

Bertha Kalich

Known for her majestic bearing, great beauty, and fine diction, Bertha Kalich was the first female actor to make the transition from the Yiddish to the English stage. Critics called her the “Jewish Bernhardt” and she herself later estimated that she had played some 125 roles in seven languages during her long theatrical career. Kalich was one of the great stars of the golden age of the American Yiddish theater and, for a time, a leading light of mainstream American drama as well.

Jewish Women and Jewish Music in America

American Jewish music has expanded vastly in variety, range, and quality of activities. Jews brought to America their secular-folk and sacred-liturgical musical heritage. There has been a renascence of age-old traditions that have become means of self-expression for Jewish women.

Rokhl Holzer

For Rokhl Holzer, a riveting recital artiste and unforgettable star of the Yiddish stage, acting the part was never enough. She lived and breathed each role, mesmerizing audiences in Poland, Lithuania, Australia, Israel, USA, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden with her ability to transform herself into any character she portrayed. Holzer was also an adept and adored director of the Yiddish theater, a true team worker who brought out the best in all with whom she shared the stage.

Anna Held

The date and place of Anna Held’s birth are shrouded in mystery, confusion or vanity. They range from March 18, 1865, in Warsaw, Poland, to 1878 in Paris, France, a thirteen-year difference. That she was born in Warsaw on March 18, 1873, may be most accurate. Held was the youngest and only survivor of eleven children. Her parents were Maurice (or Shimmle), a glovemaker, and Yvonne (or Helene) Pierre. Some sources suggest that both her parents were Jewish, while one source states that her mother was Catholic.

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, a popular and highly acclaimed author, brought a generous embrace and a well-honed theatrical sensibility to her short stories, sketches and portraits. She moved her characters and readers from the pious, rooted intimacy of the [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:404]shtetl[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] to the fragmented, often despairing experience of America.

Vera Gordon

After her star-making turn in the 1920 film Humoresque, actor Vera Gordon came to represent the archetypical Jewish mother, both on-screen and off. She played mother roles in almost thirty films, including The Millionaires (1926), Four Walls (1928), and the successful The Cohens and the Kellys series.

Jennie Goldstein

Jennie Goldstein was one of the foremost Yiddish theater tragediennes, beloved by the public and acclaimed by critics for her ability to make audiences cry and for her outstanding voice.

Berta Gersten

Berta Gersten, a tall, regal, soft-spoken actor, was a highly acclaimed leading lady in the Yiddish art theater movement for fifty years. Her career on the English-language stage, though shorter, was also distinguished.

Brazil, Contemporary

The Brazilian Jewish community is the second largest Jewish community in South America and one of the ten largest in the world.

Glika Bilavsky

As an actor on the Yiddish stage, Glika (Degenshteyn) Bilavsky participated early on in the renaissance of secular Yiddish culture in the twentieth century.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Yiddish Theater." (Viewed on March 27, 2015) <http://jwa.org/topics/yiddish-theater>.

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