Famous Long Ago

Yiddish in New York, 1967-72: Photographs by Arnold Chekow

In 1990, a middle-aged Long Island lawyer named Arnold Chekow walked into the Yiddish Book Center carrying a cardboard box filled with black-and-white photographs of dozens of Yiddish writers, actors, journalists, and performers. An amateur photographer who had learned Yiddish from his immigrant parents, Chekow took the photos at various locations in New York City between 1967 and 1972. Today the powerful images—published here for the first time—provide a deeply personal and revealing view of the later years of some of the best-known personalities of Yiddish culture in America.

Listen to photographer Arnold Chekow on The Shmooze as he visits with Aaron Lansky and shares stories about the Yiddish cultural icons he photographed in New York in the 1960s.