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Cast of Di Megileh of Itzik Manger, 2015, JCC East Bay.

Yiddish Theater Shmooze on Zoom!
Next Gathering: Sunday, September 13 at 7:00 pm

Meet renowned actor Shane Baker (New York) star of the New Yiddish Rep’s 2016-2017 Yiddish production of God of Vengeance
Plus the singer with the concertina Myrna Oy (Canada), and Klezmer inspired flutist Marian Concus (Bay Area).

Hosted by Laura Sheppard and Bruce Bierman.

The Yiddish Theater Shmooze  is a once a month gathering with theatre lovers to share performances, readings and conversation!.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5103844570

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Producer Laura Sheppard and Director Bruce Bierman announce the 2020 online film/video production of God of Vengeance and CAST. Watch for details here!

For more information: info@yiddishtheatre-ensemble.org

Eliana Kissner as Vashti, 2015

After our hit musical production of Di Megileh of Itzik Manger for the 2014 and 2015 Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley, audiences were thrilled to see professional Yiddish theater back on its feet again.  However, one question prevailed:  “Where can we see more Yiddish theater?”

In response to the overwhelming demand of our audience, the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble was created to nurture and revive the tremendous repertory of Yiddish dramas, comedies, musicals and operettas.  To kick off our first season, we have chosen the towering 1906 classic God of Vengeance (Got Fun Nekome) by the prolific Yiddish writer Sholem Asch.  

A BAY AREA PREMIERE: GOD OF VENGEANCE, Winter 2020 - Dates TBA An ONLINE Film/video production!

Due to Covid-19 public restrictions, Yiddish Theatre Ensemble presents online film/video performances for the Bay Area premiere of this bold and provocative play, directed by Bruce Bierman. It features an English translation by Caraid O’Brien including Yiddish language and idioms. Although the original script was set in turn-of-the-20th century Poland, this production is set in New York’s Lower East Side circa 1930. A musical score by David Rosenfeld enhance the emotional voice of this evocative drama. Gorgeous digital set design by Jeremy Knight along with wardrobe design by Suzanne Stassevich (formerly of San Francisco Opera) create the visual ambiance of this play. Dramaturgy by Sarah Pizer-Bush.

The production also coincides with the 40th Anniversary of Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, MA) and their nationwide celebration. The renowned book center is sending Editorial Director David Mazower — great grandson of playwright Sholem Asch — to give a pre-production lecture. Watch for details!

This production is fiscally sponsored by KlezCalifornia.

Sholem Asch circa 1906 in London (Archive, Yiddish Book Center)


Actress, 1907 St. Petersburg, God of Vengeance production (Archive, Yiddish Book Center/ Digital Yiddish Theater Project)

After the play’s Berlin opening in 1907, God of Vengeance had tremendous success throughout Europe and was translated into many languages. In New York, it was first seen on the Yiddish stages starring the great Dovid Kessler. The first English production opened in 1922 at the Provincetown Theater in Greenwich Village. In 1923, the English production opened at the Apollo Theater on 42nd Street.  Soon after, the show was raided, closed down, and the actors arrested on obscenity charges due to the play’s unconventional themes and portrayals–including the first lesbian kiss on Broadway. The shocking details of the play were assailed by both the religious and cultural establishment.

The history of Asch and God of Vengeance was the inspiration for the 2015-2017 Tony award-winning Broadway production Indecent. Our Director, Bruce Bierman, served as Yiddish Dance Dramaturg for Indecent recently produced by the acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival.


Considered one of the most psychologically revealing plays of the first half of the 20th century, God of Vengeance is still controversial for its views on religious hypocrisy, morality, and sexual freedom.

This is the story of an observant Jewish family trying to survive during hard times. The father runs a brothel in their cellar, attempting to make enough money to commission a Torah scroll so he can marry off his daughter to a yeshiva student and keep her pure. Tensions mount as arrangements are made and passions are exchanged, while others threaten his plans. When he discovers that his daughter has fallen in love with one of his prostitutes, his belief that God will exact vengeance upon him begins to unravel his mind into madness. 

Actor Rudolf Schildkraut, Berlin, 1907 production, God of Vengeance (Archive, Yiddish Book Center/ Digital Yiddish Theater Project)


“We believe that through the vitality of live theater, the rich cultural legacy of Yiddish and its literature will continue to thrive.”

Berel Alexander as Fastrigoseh, 2015

Yiddish Theatre Ensemble (YTE) is dedicated to producing the rich, rarely performed repertory of the past 150 years, as well as new works by living artists through performances, readings, lectures, and workshops. YTE strives to bring a contemporary approach and relevance to this legacy while staying true to the essence of the original scripts. Productions are in English and Yiddish with subtitles.

Laura Sheppard, producer and Bruce Bierman, director and co-artistic directors, have collaborated for more than a decade to create community-based productions in affiliation with fiscal sponsor KlezCalifornia. Their successes include the popular Yiddish musical Di Megileh of Itzik Manger, produced by the Yiddish Theater Collective (March 2014) and New Yiddish Theater (February 2015) as part of the Jewish Music Festival, as well as KlezCalifornia’s Cabaret by the Bay.

For newsletter and ticket information Click Here and select Yiddish Theatre Ensemble

Would you like to audition or volunteer?   Be in touch!  info@yiddishtheatre-ensemble.org or Laura Sheppard (510) 205-0445

Help us launch this show!

We thank you for your support!  A sheynem dank!  

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payable to KlezCalifornia,
6714 Gladys Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530
and indicate in the subject line Yiddish Theatre Ensemble (YTE).

A fiscally sponsored program of