Restoring the Yiddish Theatre Walk of Fame
Friends of the Abe Lebewohl Yiddish Theatre Walk of Fame
Meet the Stars of Yiddish Broadway
Join us on Wednesday, May 19, 5 pm, at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and East 10th Street to meet the remaining Stars of Yiddish Theatre (rain date, Thursday, May 20, 5pm).
Second Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl decided to celebrate Yiddish Theatre’s leading figures by creating granite stars and placing them in the sidewalk outside of the Deli. Enjoy hearing the stories of the playwrights, impresarios, and actors who played in the theaters that dotted Second Avenue, known as the Yiddishe Rialto. Learn about the Second Avenue buildings they played in and how these buildings remain tied to the performing arts. Broadway’s roots run deep and are grounded in Second Avenue: theatrical figures “crossed over” to Broadway for decades, and more recently Broadway has crossed back to Yiddish Theatre through performances of Indecent and Yiddish Fiddler on the Roof. Paper and crayons will be provided so that you can rub the stars the right way. Spoiler Alert: we’ll ask you for help in advocating preserving these stars so that the Lower East Side/East Village can remain their home for future generations. Knowledge of Yiddish not required.
News Flash! Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has convened a Task Force on this important issue.
In the early 20th century, a vibrant Yiddish theater scene blossomed on the Lower East Side. Centered along Second Avenue and the Bowery, New York’s “Yiddish Broadway” offered dramas, comedies, and musicals that entertained and inspired immigrants and many others. In 1984, Second Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl installed a memorial to honor the stars of this once-thriving Jewish theater scene in the sidewalk outside his beloved restaurant. In the style of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lebewohl embedded two rows of granite stars bearing the names of some of the best and brightest Yiddish theater performers, composers, and playwrights, including the Secunda family. Over 30 artists were memorialized in this way.
The Second Avenue Deli closed its doors at its E. 10th Street location in 2006, leaving behind the Walk of Fame to serve as a tribute to Yiddish Theatre for the public. But now this civic tribute is deteriorating. Friends of the Abe Lebewohl Yiddish Walk of Fame is working to promote the history and culture of Yiddish Theater and preserve the granite stars first embedded in the sidewalk of Second Avenue by restauranteur Abe Lebewohl. Village Preservation is proud to be working with fellow stakeholders, with the support of the Lebewohl family, to secure the future of this important piece of our neighborhood history.
THE WALK OF FAME NEEDS OUR HELP
What needs to be done to preserve and protect the Walk of Fame? The surrounding sidewalk is chipping, cracking, and adding to the wear and tear on the memorial stones. The stones themselves have faded and according to an expert analysis cannot remain in the ground without further deterioration, and unfortunately cannot remain in the sidewalk permanently. Friends of the Abe Lebewohl Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame’s goals are to educate the public about the history of Yiddish Theatre, to preserve the original tiles off site, and to reinstall a recreation of the historic plaque tiles in this area with long term stewardship.
Spread the word to help save a piece of Yiddish theatre.
A research consortium dedicated to the application of digital humanities tools and methods to the study of Yiddish theatre and drama
The Museum of Yiddish Theatre has a marvelous Facebook page, so if you’re interested in Yiddish Theatre, you should become a member via Facebook
NYPL’s comprehensive Yiddish theater collection includes hundreds of manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, posters, playbills, books, periodicals, and sheet music, comprising one of the largest such collections in the world.
Visit the Museum of the City of New York’s 2016 exhibit, New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway
Explore the museum’s full collection of materials on Yiddish theater,
Oral Histories of Jack Lebewohl and Sharon Lebewohl
Transcript of interview with Jack Lebewohl by Elissa Sampson, an urban geographer and Visiting Scholar in Cornell University’s Jewish Studies Program.
Transcript of interview with Sharon Lebewohl by Elissa Sampson.
The Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has convened a Task Force on this important issue.
Village Preservation is proud to be working with individuals and stakeholders in this important initiative including:
- Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
- East Village Community Coalition
- Friends of the Lower East Side
- Historic Districts Council
- Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy
- 10th & Stuyvesant Streets Block Association
- The Secunda Family
- Tours of the City
- And with the participation of The Lebewohl Family: Jack Lebewohl, Sharon Lebewohl and Felicia Lebewohl
…and you! You can help restore this important piece of history to the East Side. Lend your name in support of preserving the Yiddish Walk of Fame and receive periodic updates and meeting notices, or email us directly to get involved.
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