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Helen Menken

One of the finest actors of her day, as well as a producer and a philanthropist, Helen Menken devoted her entire life to the American theater. While she was known for playing a lesbian in The Captive, for which she was arrested during a performance, and her role as Elizabeth I in Mary of Scotland, her biggest contribution to theater was creating the 1942–1946 Stage Door Canteen through the American Theater Wing, in which Broadway stars performed for service people.

Elaine May

Elaine May broke down barriers for women in comedy, first as half of the celebrated comic duo Nichols and May, then as one of the few women screenwriters and directors in Hollywood. Some of her notable works include The Heartbreak Kid (director), Heaven Can Wait, and Tootsie (screenwriter).

Fritzi Massary

Fritzi Massary was a prominent singer in Berlin prior to the onset of World War II. She reigned over the Berlin stage, singing the title role in Franz Lehar’s The Merry Widow and Adele in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus. Among the works created especially for her was the operetta Die Kaiserin by Leo Fall.

Fania Marinoff

Fania Marinoff was associated with one of the most vibrant artistic circles in the United States and Europe. She numbered among her friends writers such as Gertrude Stein, playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill, and artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe. Marinoff and her husband played prominent roles in the bohemian social and artistic life of New York, particularly of the Harlem Renaissance.

Clara Lipman

Clara Lipman based her long and successful career as an actress and playwright on her ingénue performances and her gift for light comedy. She wrote or co-wrote twenty-two plays, such as the 1912 hit Elevating a Husband, and was also active in the women’s suffrage movement.

Mischket Liebermann

Mischket Liebermann was an actress who was an active member of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany). Known for her roles in Scholem Asch’s Bronx Express and Ernst Toller’s Hoppla, Liebermann performed throughout Germany and the Soviet Union. After 1945, she participated in the cultural reconstruction of East Germany.

Irene Lewisohn

Irene Lewisohn was a Jewish philanthropist whose devotion to the arts led to the formation of the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Museum of Costume Art (now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Her involvement in these and other social and philanthropic activities make her an important figure in New York’s cultural history.

Sara Levi-Tanai

Sara Levi-Tanai was the founder, choreographer, and artistic director of the Inbal Dance Theater. With an original style, she established a unique dance theater that combined the East and West and the early history of the Nation of Israel with the present, as well as creating a new language of movement in the world of dance that is called “the Inbal language.”

Tillie Leblang

Tillie LeBlang was known as a businesswoman, philanthropist, and mother. With her husband and daughters, LeBlang created a multi–million–dollar box office that transformed the way Broadway shows sold tickets. When her husband, Joseph, died in 1931, she took control of the family business and continued to manage it until just a few months before she died.

Linda Lavin

A prolific performer on stage and small screen, actor-singer Linda Lavin has been a role model for many of America’s working women. While her Jewish heritage has not always been the focus of her career, she has powerfully portrayed Jewish women whenever the roles have come her way—which they increasingly do.

Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) Theater in the United States

The role of women in the Ladino theater is an eloquent testimony to how they have contributed to their communities, responded to national crises, and lent their energies to the continuation of the Judeo-Spanish cultural and linguistic heritage. Esther Cohen, who wrote and performed plays in Brooklyn in the 1930s, is an exemplary model of women involved in American Judeo-Spanish theater.

Miriam Kressyn

Miriam Kressyn was that rare talent known for both her performances and her work as a historian of the Yiddish theater. Kressyn performed with Julius Nathanson’s, Maurice Schwartz’s, and Aaron Lebedeff’s Yiddish theater troupes and toured Argentina and Europe. For over forty years, she and her husband hosted the radio program Memories of the Yiddish Theater.

Lia Koenig

Lia Koenig is known as the First Lady of Israeli Yiddish Theater for her complex roles in world drama. After immigrating to Israel from Poland in 1961 with her husband Zevi Stolper, she began her legendary career at the Habimah theater. Koenig was awarded the Israel Prize, the Israel Theater Prize, and the EMET Prize. 

Carole King

Carole King, a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn, gave Aretha Franklin reason to croon “A Natural Woman,” inspired Little Eva to tell a generation about the latest dance craze in “The Loco-Motion,” and let James Taylor warm our hearts with “You’ve Got a Friend.”

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. Kalich performed 125 roles in seven languages and was a star of Yiddish theater in Europe before immigrating to the United States and rising to fame in American Yiddish theater and mainstream films, plays, and radio shows. 

Ida Kaminska

Ida Kaminska’s life adventures, extraordinary talent, astonishing vitality, and passionate devotion to theatrical art and the culture of the Nation of Yiddish make her one of the symbols of twentieth-century Polish Judaism. She was influenced by her mother, Esther Rachel, who was the founder of modern Yiddish theater and an influential actress.

Fay Kanin

Over a sixty-year career as a writer, actor, co-producer, and activist, Fay Kanin was awarded several Emmys and Peabodys, the ACLU Bill of Rights Award, the Crystal Award from Women in Film, the Burning Bush Award from the University of Judaism, and nominations for Oscar and Tony awards. She was the second female president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Miriam Kainy

Miriam Kainy, Israel’s first established woman playwright, won the Israel Prime Minister’s Literary Prize in 1997. All sixteen of her plays were written in Hebrew and produced by Israel’s established theater companies. Kainy has also written manuscripts for radio and television and adapted dramas from English and Yiddish into Hebrew.

Helen Joseph

An internationally renowned puppeteer and author on marionettes, Helen Haiman Joseph made a career entertaining and educating audiences of all ages with the performance of puppetry. She created the Pinocchio Players in 1924, writing and producing plays for clubs, schools, and hospitals. Joseph also wrote several children’s books.

Rokhl Holzer

Rokhl Holzer earned a reputation as an actress with a talent for transforming herself to suit any role, but her most remarkable transformation may have been her shift from Poland to Australia’s Yiddish theater in the 1930s. Holzer, a riveting recital artiste and unforgettable star of the Yiddish stage, mesmerized global audiences and was also an adored director of the Yiddish theater.

Libby Holman

Singer and actress Libby Holman was known as much for her scandalous personal life and revolutionary activism as for her lush voice. She grew famous performing in Broadway shows and revues throughout the 1920s. Holman was openly bisexual and was accused of murdering her husband, Zachary Smith Reynolds, in 1932. She was actively involved in protesting racial segregation.

Nini Hess

In the years between 1914 and 1933, numerous significant personalities in art, culture, politics, society and sport met in the photographic portraiture studio of Nini and Carry Hess. With their technical and aesthetic brilliance, the sisters were among the leading photographers in Germany of the time.

Sylvia Herscher

Sylvia Herscher’s career in the theater encompassed several occupations and spanned decades. Beginning in the 1950s, she served as general manager, producer, publisher, agent, and board member, as well as friend and guide to countless writers and composers finding their way into the business. In 2000, the American Theatre Wing presented her with its Special Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.

Judith Herzberg

Judith Herzberg is a Dutch Jewish poet, essayist, screenwriter, and professor who has been hailed as one of the greatest living Dutch poets for her ability to imbue everyday objects with unexpected meaning. Making her debut as a poet in the early sixties, Herzberg has written poems, essays, plays, film scripts, and television dramas, with many translations and adaptations to her name.

Ofira Henig

Ofira Henig is one of Israel's most prolific and influential theater directors. Henig began her career at the Habimah before becoming the artistic director of the Khan Theater in Jerusalem. In 2002 she became the artistic director of drama and dance at the Jerusalem International Festival. In 2004 she was appointed director of The Laboratory, a new experimental theater in Jerusalem.


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