Yiddish lives once again on our stage, expressing the wisdom of those who are no longer with us.
“In a world where conscience and compassion have sunk to new depths, Yiddish has not died, Yiddish has become the soul” (Haim Hefer).
Yiddishpiel – The Yiddish Theater in Israel – is the only Yiddish theater in Israel!
Yiddishpiel was established in 1987 with the mission of restoring to Yiddish, the language that had almost disappeared, its charm, its popularity, and its glory, and to make it the focus of a rich and significant culture that is an important foundation stone in the history of the Jewish nation.
Yiddishpiel was founded by its Artistic Director Shmuel
Atzmon-Wircer, in response to a vital need to re-establish the lost
honor of the Yiddish language and its culture, and to revive it. His
mission, that at first looked impossible, was not well received and fell
on deaf ears, but behind him stood first-class social, financial and
artistic public figures, from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the
Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, headed by the then Mayor Shlomo Lahat
(Tchitch), an enthusiastic supporter of this idea. All these made the
dream of Shmuel Atzmon and his troupe of actors a reality.
They succeeded in reviving and preserving a cultural and historical
asset and brought us to the present day with more than 25 years of
diverse activity by our theater.
More than 100 new productions have been staged by the Yiddishpiel Theater until today with performances throughout Israel. The theater also earned international recognition for its achievements, as a result of its steady participation in dozens of international festivals worldwide and winning a great number of international prizes.
The finest actors have performed and preforming in the Yiddishpiel
Theater from its very onset including veteran Yiddish actors such as
Yaakov Alperin, Yaakov Bodo, Anabella, Uri Ayalon-Kowalski, and Monika
Vardimon. In recent years, they have been joined by younger actors,
Israeli-born as well as new immigrants from the former Soviet Union,
from Romania and from Argentina. Most of them learned Yiddish while
performing in the Yiddishpiel Theater. In addition to that, we also have
many leading guest-actors performing in our theater such as: Lea
Koenig, Miriam Zohar, Tuvia Tsafir, Mike Burstyn, Yona Elian-Keshet,
Dovele Glickman, Dudu Fischer, Ilan Dar, Odeya Koren and more.
The repertoire of the theater is rich and diverse. It ranges from the classic works of Sholem Aleichem, Abraham Goldfaden, Itzik Manger, Sholem Asch and Jacob Gordin, through Isaac Bashevis Singer, Shai Agnon, and to Hanoch Levin, Joshoua Sobol, Hillel Mittelpunkt, B. Michael, Efraim Sidon and others. In addition to that, works from the global repertoire are staged such as Samuel Becket, Nikolai Gogol, Neil Simon, Willie Russell and many more.
The Yiddishpiel Theater is flourishing: it performs several productions simultaneously from various genres and succeeds to produce four to five new plays each year and is gradually increasing its audience. Moreover, from year to year, the audience became younger. Also tourists of all ages, who visit Israel from Western Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, the USA, Australia and South Africa come to the theater’s performances during their stay in Israel and are excited by the encounter with their mother tongue. Yiddishpiel is part of the rich texture of the Israeli repertoire theater and as aforementioned is the only Yiddish theater in Israel!
Apart from its repertoire the theater holds various activities, some
are a contribution to the community, and others preserve the Yiddish
language and culture for generations to come:
– “The Chesed (Grace) Theater” – the theater puts on 150 performances annually in senior citizen homes and in geriatric institutions throughout Israel. Each week, groups of actors perform before holocaust survivors who are no longer able to attend the theater halls.
– At the annual assembly for the Holocaust Memorial and Martyrs Remembrance Day – which is held every year the theater puts on special performances as well as on Yom Hashoa – the Memorial Day for the Holocaust victims for whom Yiddish was their main language. These events are open to the general public and are presented in Yiddish accompanied by simultaneous translation into Hebrew for those who do not understand Yiddish.
– Plays for high school students – the Yiddishpiel Theater together with the Ministry of Education of Israel and “Sal Tarbut Artzy” (National Arts Educational Program), have joined a project which purpose is to bring adolescents, students and educators closer to the Yiddish culture, by plays performed in Hebrew which is integrated with Yiddish and accompanied by translation into Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.
All Yiddishpiel performances are performed in Yiddish and accompanied by translations into Hebrew, Russian and any additional languages according to the locations where the theater performs worldwide.
The Yiddishpiel Theater is a non-profit organization and is supported by the following organizations: