New York’s Yiddish Theater

An American Story

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as millions of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe poured into the port of New York, a thriving community of Yiddish-language performing companies and venues sprang up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. By 1925, Second Avenue, known as the “Yiddish Broadway,” boasted more than a dozen theaters that attracted hundreds of thousands of theatergoers each year.

The Yiddish Book Center was a co-presenter of the exhibit New York's Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway, on display at the Museum of the City of New York in 2016. The first major exhibit on New York's Yiddish theater, it recaptured that vibrant world through original artifacts, costumes, photographs, ephemera, and documents, as well as multimedia presentations of film and audio of some of the great performances of the Yiddish stage and its emulators. 

This story initially ran in Pakn Treger as part of a special issue on Yiddish theater. Other articles from that issue are available here.