Outdoor portrait of actors and actresses, members of "The Hirschbein Troupe", under the direction of renowned Yiddish dramatist and novelist, Peretz Hirschbein...

The Yiddish theater, which got its early start in religious plays performed during the holiday of Purim, came into its own in the 1870s, after the Romanian actor Yisroel Rosenberg brought it to Odessa. This inspired the great Abraham Goldfaden (1840-1906) to found a Yiddish theater. Goldfaden was a prolific poet, actor, and playwright who wrote more than 60 pieces ranging from satires and comedies to melodramas and biblical operettas. Among his most memorable works were Schmendrik (1877), The Fanatic(1880), and The Witch (1887). Goldfaden's plays, which were performed throughout the Ashkenazic world, helped spotlight Yiddish theater as an important part of Jewish popular art and entertainment.

Jacob Adler (1855-1926) - A leading figure and reformer of the Yiddish Theater scene, Jacob Adler was born in Odessa. He left Russia in 1883, due to the...

Also working within the Odessa theater scene from the beginning was Jacob P. Adler (1855-1926), one of the most famous of all Yiddish actors. Born in Odessa during the mid-19th century, Adler did not truly make his name until he left the city in 1883 because of the czar's new ban on Yiddish theater. In London, Adler performed The Odessa Beggar and, gaining notoriety, soon emigrated to New York, where he became a huge star of the Jewish stage and established a family dynasty of Jewish theater.