Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


"Yidish Musical Theatre Group"
(Philadelphia, PA)

"The group was formed after a long struggle of wanting to create a semi-professional Yiddish theatre in Philadelphia. When the attempt was made, for material reasons, it did not form, [and] Khayele Ash and Ari Furman [then] formed the group and aroused the singer Avraham Furman and the pianist Yehudis Keselman, and [they] began to perform in various programs of Goldfaden, Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, The Tunkler, Moishe Nadir, as well in sketches of today's humorists about American and Israeli life, musical productions and solo singing of general Yiddish theatre repertoire and Hebrew and Yiddish folk songs.

The group did not use English in any of its performances, and this is just her main power for success.

Besides in Philadelphia, the group performed four times in Baltimore, two times in Washington, Detroit, and in New Haven, as well as in Harrisburg, Allentown, York, Bethlehem, Easton, Norwich, New York, Miami, Columbus, and in the summertime in the mountains.

The group also performed with their own settings, props, lighting, microphones and suitable costumes.

The goal of the group is to bring the Yiddish word and songs through performance in the expanding communities, and to the external Jewish organizations.

The group performed most of the time in Jewish community centers or temples, at meetings or special arrangements undertaken by Jewish organizations that used to use the English language exclusively, but their programs would be conducted entirely in Yiddish, including enormous speeches. The best sign of this are the countless praise and thank you letters from the community centers, B'nai B'rith lodges, sisterhoods of temples, congregations and the Board of Rabbis of Philadelphia.

Khayele Ash writes:

"Our success comes to us, as we work with exceptional love and respect. Jews are truly hungry for Yiddish theatre and are very thankful when we come to them with a Yiddish production. We believe and see it, that with Yiddish theatre one can evoke much more interest in Yiddish cultural values, for which a great portion of the Americanized Jewish generation is, regrettably, entirely estranged. Our solution is through the Yiddish theatre to remind the older generation of their culture, and the younger to be instructed and familiarized with our Yiddish cultural treasures."

In 1965 the group, for the first time in the history of television in America, performed with a purely Yiddish program in Philadelphia on Channel 6. The program was dedicated to the Yiddish theatre. In 1966 they performed in Philadelphia on the local channel 29 with a Yiddish program -- "50 Years Without Sholem Aleichem". The reaction was such that the program was repeated twice. In 1967 they again performed on the same television [station] with a program dedicated to the nineteenth anniversary of the Land of Israel. Also the program in the span of one month was rebroadcast twice.

Sh. E. from Khayele Ash.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5965.

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