Ida Kaminska: A Luminary of Yiddish Theater

A short film from the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project

Ida Kaminska (1899-1980) was a world-renowned Polish actress, director, and translator. As the daughter of actress and “mother of the Jewish stage” Esther Rachel and director Avrom Yitshok Kaminska, Ida was born into Yiddish theater and began her career at the age of five. She devoted her life to Yiddish culture and theater, producing more than 70 plays and performing in more than 150 shows.

Ida left lasting impressions on those who saw her perform. She is credited with helping to develop a Jewish-European style that brought Yiddish theater on par with the coexisting prestigious European theatrical traditions. After World War II, Ida returned to Warsaw to reestablish Yiddish theater. She served as the artistic director of the Jewish State Theater of Poland, which was later renamed in honor or her and her mother.

This short draws from several oral history interviews. 

The Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project is a growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories provide a deeper understanding of the Jewish experience. Since 2010, the Project has recorded more than 1,000 video oral history interviews about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture.