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The Congress for Jewish Culture Hosts Special Panel to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of THE DYBBUK Tomorrow

Tune in on Wednesday, December 9 at 1 p.m. EST.

The Congress for Jewish Culture Hosts Special Panel to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of THE DYBBUK Tomorrow

The Congress for Jewish Culture is hosting a special Facebook Live panel tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1 p.m. EST to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the very first performance of THE DYBBUK, the world's most famous Jewish play by S. Ansky. Writer, translator, actress, and theater historian Caraid O'Brien is set to moderate a conversation with Nahma Sandrow (playwright, translator and theater historian; author of Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater), Debra Caplan (Assistant Professor of Theater at Baruch College and author of Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy) and Itzik Gottesman (Senior Lecturer in Yiddish at UT Austin and author of Defining the Yiddish Nation: The Jewish Folklorists of Poland). The event can be viewed at

Next Monday, December 14th at 7 p.m. EST the Congress for Jewish Culture's YouTube channel ( will broadcast the premiere of a new virtual production of THE DYBBUK featuring an all-star international cast including Los Angeles-based Mike Burstyn (Barnum, The Rothschilds, Ain't Broadway Grand), Shane Baker (New York), Mendy Cahan (Tel Aviv), Refoyel Goldwasser (Buenos Aires), Daniel Kahn (Berlin), Amitai Kedar (Tel Aviv), Yelena Shmulenson (New York), Suzanne Toren (New York), and Michael Wex (Toronto). Under the direction of Allen Lewis Rickman, who will also provide English narration, THE DYBBUK will be performed in Yiddish featuring English subtitles, with a script adapted by Rickman (from an adaptation by Dina Halperin, who appeared in the 1937 film version).

Playwright S. Ansky wrote THE DYBBUK from late 1913 through 1915 in Russian and it was later translated into Yiddish by Ansky himself. The play had its world premiere performed by the Vilna Troupe in Warsaw on December 9, 1920, 30 days after the playwright's death. Legendary impresario Max Reinhardt, upon seeing the Vilna production, famously declared "This is not a play, this is a religious rite!"

THE DYBBUK was subsequently translated into over 25 languages and performed thousands of times all over the world. On September 1, 1921, the play had its American premiere at the grand opening of Maurice Schwartz' Yiddish Art Theatre in New York, starring Schwartz and Celia Adler. The play was an important artistic and commercial hit and ran for 18 weeks. Along with numerous Broadway productions, the film adaptation of THE DYBBUK was released in 1937 directed by Michał Waszyński. It is still being produced in countless adaptations, as well as operas, ballets and symphonic suites. The play is considered the jewel of the Jewish theatre.

Based on years of research by S. Ansky, who traveled between Jewish shtetls in Russia and Ukraine documenting folk beliefs and stories of the Hassidic Jews, THE DYBBUK relates the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk - a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person - on the eve of her wedding.

Founded in 1948, the Congress of Jewish Culture is a secular organization based in New York City. Executive Director Shane Baker, who is serving as producer for these commemorative events, maintains its longstanding commitment to enriching Yiddish culture worldwide.

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