As the history books tell us, the modern Yiddish theater was founded in Iasi, Romania in 1876 by Avrom Goldfaden who drew on an energetic tradition of shtetl-bound folk performance. Indeed, this narrative explains some of this cultural milestone. What other historical factors gave rise to the modern Yiddish theater? Who was Avrom Goldfaden? And why was a historical accident crucial to the Yiddish theater’s rise?
Alyssa Quint is the Senior Scholar at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. She is the author of The Rise of the Modern Yiddish Theater (Indiana 2019), a finalist of the National Jewish Book Award. She is also the co-author of the forthcoming two-volume anthology Women on the Yiddish Stage.