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Gallery 5: Encounters with Modernity, 1772–1914

One of the earliest films of a YiddishYiddishthe historic Jewish vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, a fusion of German dialects, Hebrew and Aramaic, and Judeo-Romance and Slavic languages. The beginnings of Yiddish are in the Rhineland in the Middle Ages. About 13 million people spoke Yiddish before the Second World War. theater performance is the 1916 silent movie of Shulamis, an operetta by Abraham Goldfadn, father of Yiddish theater. Gimpel’s theater performed many Goldfaden works, many of them directed by Goldfadn himself. The silent film is accompanied here by one of the earliest sound recordings of songs from the Yiddish theater. The performers are from Gimpel’s Yiddish theatre in Lemberg, today Lviv, the first permanent Yiddish theater. These artists made about 600 recordings between about 1904 and 1911. Aiming for a higher artistic standard, Esther Rokhl Kaminska, mother of Yiddish theater, starred in the permanent Yiddish art theater established in Warsaw in 1909.