A Tale of Two Museums
Ester Rachel Kaminska Theater Museum Collection

New York's Yiddish Theater and its Museum

Click here for an audio guide. 

Text to the audio is available below the gallery.
The Establishment of the Hebrew Actors Union (HAU), 1889.

A portrait of the members of the Hebrew Actors' Union, 1899 

A Tale of Two Museums borrows its title from Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities that refers to London and Paris. Instead, this website tells the story of two centers of thriving Yiddish theater: New York City and Warsaw and the Yiddish theater museum to which each of them gave rise. As a center of Yiddish theater, New York City in 1926 also evokes the first line of Dickens's novel: "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" and there is no better illustration of this than New York's short-lived Yiddish theater museum that shut down about a year after its enthusiastically haled establishment. Indeed, 1926, on the heels of its very best year in 1925, is when New York City's Yiddish theater begins its downward slide. Explore the history of New York City's thriving Yiddish theater until 1926, its complex history after 1926, and a section on the brief life of its Yiddish theater museum.

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