A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

The Vilna Troupe's Dybbuk

1920s Vilner Trupe Dybbuk Nokhbush.png

Description

Postcard of vignetted montage of three characters of The Dybbuk as performed by its original Vilna Troupe cast: A. Shteyn as Khonen; A. Morevski as the Messenger; and Miryem Orleska as Leah.

Title

The Vilna Troupe's Dybbuk

Subject

The Dybbuk has been referred to as the Romeo and Juliet of the Yiddish theater. It takes place in the towns of Brinnits and Miropolye around the turn of the century. At its core is the unspoken love between Khonen, a poor, orphaned yeshiva student, and Leah, the daughter of Sender, the town's rich man, who prepares to marry her into a still wealthier family. Amid fasting and kabbalistic manipulations designed to win the hand of his beloved, Khonen falls dead. As the wedding ceremony reaches its climax, Khonen's spirit enters Leah in the form of a dybbuk (a spirit, literally, a Hebrew loanword meaning to cleave) and refuses to leave. Teh Holy Mirpolyer Tsadik convenes a court before which Sender and the soul of Khonen are summoned. It emerges that when Khonen and Leah were yet unborn, their fathers pledged to marry them to each other. Sender begs forgiveness for his transgression of the oath, but his contrition is not accepted and the lovers will not part: Leah dies to be with Khonen.

From this tightly structured plot-line, An-ski weaves many threads of exposition and digression that include Hasidic lore and philosophy, and, through them, explores questions of divine justice and the redeemabilty of man. He also weaves in history and folk material that he, no doubt, amassed from the expeditions he lead through seventy towns and cities in the Ukrainian provinces of Volhyn, Podolia, and Kiev.

Description

The Dybbuk has been referred to as the Romeo and Juliet of the Yiddish theater. Its takes place in the towns of Brinnits an Miropolye around the turn of the century. At its core is the unspoken love between Khonen, a poor, orphaned yeshiva student, and Leah, the daughter of Sender, the town's rich man, who prepares to marry her into a still wealthier family. Amid fasting and kabbalistic manipulations designed to win the hand of his beloved, Khonen falls dead. As the wedding ceremony reaches its climax, Khonen's spirit enters Leah in the form of a dybbuk (a spirit, literally, a Hebrew loanword meaning to cleave) and refuses to leave. Teh Holy Mirpolyer Tsadik convenes a court before which Sender and the soul of Khonen are summoned. It emerges that when Khonen and Leah were yet unborn, their fathers pledged to marry them to each other. Sender begs forgiveness for his transgression of the oath, but his contrition is not accepted and the lovers will not part: Leah dies to be with Khonen.

From this tightly structured plot-line, Anski weaves many threads of exposition and digression that include Hasidic lore and philosophy, and, through them, explores questions of divine justice and the redeemabilty of man. He also weaves in history and folk material that he, no doubt, amassed from the expeditions he lead through  seventy towns and cities in the Ukrainian provinces of Volhyn, Podolia, and Kiev.

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Citation

“The Vilna Troupe's Dybbuk ,” YIVO Online Exhibitions, accessed June 22, 2021, https://ataleoftwomuseums.yivo.org/items/show/2935.
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