NYTF Radio

Hosted by Toney Brown, NYTF Radio serves to educate listeners on the history of Yiddish Theatre and Jewish performative culture.

Featured guests have included: Bryan Doerries (Artistic Director, Theater of War), Daniel Kahn, Ben Liebert, Elmore James, Professor Joel Berkowitz of University Wisconsin Milwaukee (Shakespeare on the American Yiddish Stage), author Nahma Sandrow (Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theatre), Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek, Actor Mikhl Yashinsky, Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner, and longtime company member Itzy Firestone.

June 27, 2021 "Putting it All Together" an interview with Motl Didner

On today’s episode, we interview NYTF Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner who, along with Zalmen Mlotek, are in the midst of putting together A Yiddish Renaissance, A Virtual Concert Celebration. 

Motl took the time out of his day to conversation titled “Putting It All Together” is a full on in depth background of the Yiddish Renaissance, the rise of Yiddish in our pop culture, and a behind the scenes look at piecing together a full scale online concert featuring over 140+ artists. So let’s take it away to Motl Didner.

June 15, 2021 "Things I Learned Along the Way" | Budd Mishkin Interviews Zalmen Mlotek

On today’s episode, we have a very insightful interview today conducted by the great Budd Mishkin from NY1 and currently on 1010 WINS. Budd is in conversation on a beautiful sunday day with NYTF’s very own Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek. 

Zalmen is in the middle of gearing up for the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene’s upcoming A YIDDISH RENAISSANCE: A VIRTUAL CONCERT CELEBRATION. Debuting on Monday, July 26, 2021 at 2pm and only available for 96 hours, the benefit concert features over 140 Actors, Singers, and Musicians of all ages celebrating the revival of Yiddish in Culture, Arts, and Learning across the globe. 

The conversation with Budd Mishkin and Zalmen Mlotek titled “Things I learned along the way” touches on both the personal and professional life of Zalmen and his prestigious career in music and Yiddish culture. 

Be sure to register for our free event “A YIDDISH RENAISSANCE: A VIRTUAL CONCERT CELEBRATION” by going to nytf.org/renaissance

April 15, 2021 The Bird of the Ghetto by Chava Rosenfarb and the Yiddish Women Playwrights Festival

On April 18th 2021, NYTF presented The Bird of the Ghetto by Chava Rosenfarb. The play chronicles the attempted Vilna Ghetto uprising and the tragic story of Jewish resistance leader Itsik Vitenberg, commander of the United Partisan Organization (FPO). The presentation coincides with the 78th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on April 19, 1943.

In anticipation for this production,  NYTF Radio spoke to NYTF Literary Manager Sabina Brukner.  In this episode, we will learn about the start of NTYF’s Yiddish Women Playwrights Festival, our production of The Bird of the Ghetto,  Sabina’s life and upbringing in Yiddish culture, and of course, we chat about the great Chava Rosenfarb, one of the greatest post-war Yiddish Writers.

January 12, 2021 Soul to Soul

This episode is all about NYTF’s annual concert tradition: Soul to Soul. The electrifying and emotionally captivating theatrical concert that explores the parallels of African American and Jewish history takes to our virtual stage this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

We interview NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek and singer Elmore James. We discuss how the two artists first met, their relationship to Yiddish and African Music, and learn about how the first Soul to Soul concert came to fruition.

Then, we talk to Soul to Soul director/producer Tatiana Wechsler about the process of making Soul to Soul virtually, growing up in an African and Jewish household, her performing influences, and her time performing with NYTF in The Golden Bride.

October 1, 2020 Mickey Katz and Ben Liebert

On today’s episode, the past and present of Yiddish theater collide as we explore the life and performance of renowned Yiddish musician and comedian Mickey Katz.

We are joined by Ben Liebert, who is making his return to Folksbiene! Live on Thursday, October 8th with A Bisl Borscht: A Tribute to Mickey Katz

Ben Liebert is an actor, director, and business coach, based in New York City.  He played Motl in Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish and Boq in Wicked on Broadway and has directed such shows as Into the Woods and the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).  He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

August 10, 2020 Yiddish Stars of the Past: Samuel Goldenberg.

On today’s episode, we pay tribute to the forgotten stars of the Yiddish Theatre by learning about the actor Samuel Goldenberg. We will learn about his life, his famous roles, his contemporaries, and wonder, “How did he perhaps get lost to time?” We are joined on the program by scholar Zachary Baker. Zachary Baker is the Reinhard Family Curator Emeritus of Judaica and Hebraica Collections in the Stanford University Libraries. He has two pieces about the life of Samuel Goldenberg published at the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project. One article is titled “Enough about Strindberg! Let’s talk about Goldenberg” and the other article is titled “A Piquant Curiosity: The Gender Bending Drama Yo a Man, Nit a man.”

July 6, 2020 Yiddish Stars of Today: Daniel Kahn

Today we learn about Yiddish Stars of the present. Our guest on the episode is Daniel Kahn. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan and currently residing in Berlin, Daniel Kahn is an actor, musician, playwright, poet, and translator of the Yiddish language. He is the front man of the group Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird. We discuss his career in the performing arts, translating english into Yiddish, and his time performing with the Folksbiene. Did you know Daniel is a viral sensation? Tune in, to hear the story. 

May 20, 2020
The Cast and Creative Team of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish

On today’s episode, we pay tribute NYTF’s Landmark production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.This is a rebroadcast of the Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish Q&A from Folksbiene! LIVE, featuring director Joel Grey, Stephen Skybell, and many of the cast and creative team members. Hosted by Folksbiene Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek.

March 10 2020
Happy Purim!

Happy Purim! We throw it back to our very first episode of NYTF Radio where we sat down with Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner to discuss the history of Purim and Purim Spiels, the earliest example Yiddish theatrical performance.

March 2020
Against the Odds

In this episode, we continue explore the oral history of the Folksbiene with longtime company member Itzy Firestone. We learn about the Folksbiene in the 1980s as the company navigate a difficult question: “How do we preserve Yiddish theatre in a world with fewer and fewer fluent Yiddish speakers?”

Special Edition
Soul To Soul and The Investigation (feat. Bryan Doerries)

Air Date: Jan 15 2019

In today’s special edition episode, we talk about our upcoming events centered around Social Justice. We talk about our concert Soul to Soul (An Annual MLK Jr. Tradition). Then we sit down with Theater of War Artistic Director Bryan Doerries to talk about his company, the audience’s role in a theatrical performance, and their staged reading and town hall discussion of Peter Weiss’ The Investigation.

Season 1, Episode 4
Boris Tomashevsky and the Vagabond Stars (feat. Nahma Sandrow)

Air Date: Dec 25, 2019

In the final episode of the first season we will learn about Yiddish Theater coming to America in the late 19th century.  We sit down with scholar Nahma Sandrow author of Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater. We learn about a determined 14 year old boy who hatched an idea to put on a production of Avrom Goldfaden’s The Sorceress. Yiddish theater in America had finally arrived.

Season 1, Episode 3
The Making of The Sorceress (feat: Zalmen Mlotek, Motl Didner, Mihkl Yashinsky)

Air Date: Dec 14, 2019

In this episode, we interview Zalmen Mlotek, Motl Didner, and Mikhl Yashinsky, three artists who played major roles in bringing The Sorceress from page to stage through NYTF’s Global Restoration Initiative: identifying and presenting essential operettas, musicals and plays of the Yiddish Theater for today’s audiences.

Season 1, Episode 2
The Life and Times of Avrom Goldfaden (feat. Professor Joel Berkowitz)

Air Date: Nov 27 2019

This episode is all about the life and works of Arom Goldfaden, the father of Yiddish Theatre. We are joined by Professor Joel Berkowitz from the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We learn about the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment, and how it shaped his upbringing. We discuss his time in Iași, Romania where he founded the first professional Yiddish Theatre company. Then, we explore his time in NYC until his death in 1908.

Season 1, Episode 1
Purim Spiels (feat. Motl Didner and Itzy Firestone)

Air Date: Nov 19 2019

Our first episode is all about Purim spiels, comic re-dramatizations of the Book of Esther. The book of Esther tells the story of the Hebrew woman Esther who becomes Queen of Persia and thwarts the genocide of her people by the evil Haeman. We will be joined by NYTF Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner who will give us a history of the earliest form of Jewish theatrical performance. Then stick around for our recurring segment Ask Itzy with the longest tenured member of the Folksbiene Itzy Firestone.