Jews and the Arts

Jews and the Arts

The efforts of religious leaders were only part of a broader cultural response by Jews as they adapted to new circumstances in America. Jewish men, and for the first time, Jewish women, began to produce essays, poetry, plays, novels, and learned texts to entertain, educate, and edify their fellow Jewish Americans and their non-Jewish neighbors. Written in German and English, and occasionally Hebrew, their works were the first expression of a distinct American Jewish culture.

Sidney Franklin on the set of "The Kid from Spain"

Year: 1932
Collection: Sidney Franklin Collection

Sidney Franklin (1903-1976) was the first Jewish American to become a successful bullfighter.

 

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Molly Picon – the famed Yiddish theater and film actress – in "Bublitchki" at the Public Theater

Year: 1938
Collection: Molly Picon Papers

Jewish-American actress Molly Picon (1898–1992) was known as the great comedienne of Yiddish theater over a career that lasted for nearly 90 years. In later life, her appearances in English-language films and plays drew substantial audiences, and her role in Come Blow Your Horn with Frank Sinatra earned her an Academy Award nomination.

 

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The comedian Eddie Cantor participating in UJA's Person to Person fundraising event

Year: 1957
Collection: United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York Collection

 

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Silhouette of Josiah Moses: Little Boy Riding Pony Stick by Augustin Edouart

Year: 1840
Collection: Augustin Edouart Silhouettes Museum Collection

Before daguerreotypes and photography, the art of silhouette-making was a form of portrait-making, and Augustin Edouart (1789-1861) was one of the most famous silhouette artists in the United States – creating thousands of silhouettes.

 

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Stella Adler Calling Card Case

Year: 1916
Collection: Adler Family Collection

Stella Adler, Broadway star and founder of the Stella Adler Acting studio was a daughter of Jacob Adler and sister of Celia Adler and Luther Adler, all Yiddish theater stars.

 

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"East Side Sadie" Movie Poster

Year: 1929
Collection: Theater and Film Poster Collection of Abram Kanof

 

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Early Photograph and Concert Program of Violinist Helen Berlin

Years: (photograph) 1914; (program) 1936
Collection: Helen Berlin Collection

Helen Berlin, born in Philadelphia, was a violin soloist, chamber-music artist, and teacher. A child prodigy who played her first public recital at age seven, she was later awarded a four year fellowship at Juilliard Graduate School and played with the New York Philharmonic.

 

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"American Panorama: Pattern of the Past and Womanhood in its Unfolding" by Walter Hart Blumenthal

Year: 1962
Collection: Walter Hart Blumenthal Papers

Walter Hart Blumenthal (1882-1969) was the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects including etymology, women of the American Revolution, and the plight of the American Indian, among others - as well as an editor for the New Jewish Encyclopedia and American Hebrew magazine.

 

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Molly Picon in "Oy Is Dus A Leben" at the Molly Picon Theatre

Year: Undated
Collection: Theater and Film Poster Collection of Abram Kanof

Jewish-American actress Molly Picon (1898–1992) was known as the great comedienne of Yiddish theater over a career that lasted for nearly 90 years. In later life, her appearances in English-language films and plays drew substantial audiences, and her role in Come Blow Your Horn with Frank Sinatra earned her an Academy Award nomination.

 

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Irving Berlin's "Let's All Be American's Now"

Year: 1917
Collection: Irving Berlin Sheet Music Collection

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was born Israel Isidore Baline in Russia, possibly in what was then Belarus and the Irving Berlin Sheet Music Collection at AJHS contains approximately 238 pieces of original Irving Berlin sheet music.

 

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Playbill for "Rookwood" starring Adah Isaacs Menken

Year: 1864
Collection: Adah Isaacs Menken Papers

Adah Isaacs Menken (1835–1868) was an actress, painter, poet, and the highest earning actress of her time. She was the first American Jewish "superstar" and helped pioneer the art of cultivating an outsized, even outrageous, personality as a path to fame and fortune.

 

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Photo of Maurice Schwartz 

Year: undated
Collection: Molly Picon Papers

Maurice Schwartz (1889 –1960) founded the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York City in 1926 and served as its theatrical producer and director. He also worked in Hollywood, mostly as an actor in silent films but also as a director, producer, and screenwriter.

 

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