Yiddish Culture Oral Histories

Charlotte Cooper Yiddish Theater Memories. Charlotte Cooper is a third generation Yiddish actress. An essential part of American and South Florida history is the Yiddish cultural legacy. For over fifty years, Miami Beach was a Yiddish cultural mecca. This is a snapshot into that world.

The Cinema Theatre was the longest running Yiddish theater/Yiddish vaudeville house in South Florida and possibly the country. For nearly thirty years, it offered well-known serious Yiddish actors from around the world as well as hundreds of Catskills performers. This footage is the only known to exist.

The Feder Sisters, a popular singing duo, were a fixture on New York Yiddish radio and on Second Avenue stages for many years. Both ultimately played an important role in Miami Beach’s Yiddish cultural scene. Here they speak about their early years in New York.

Leading Yiddish performers speak about their experiences in South Florida including Yiddish actors Charlotte Cooper, the Feder Sisters, Ari Fuhrman, Howie Pepper and Helen Spitz.

For many decades on South Beach, open air/open mike concerts were held nearly everyday featuring snowbirds and permanent residents, which included performances of old Yiddish ballads, Jewish shtick and Yiddish poetry readings.

Cultural celebrations sponsored by local literary organizations and the Workmen’s Circle abounded in Miami Beach.

Up and down Lummus Park, which borders Ocean Drive on South Beach, groups of musicians, singers and dancers would gather to perform Yiddish folk and theater songs and celebrate their culture with their fellow landsmen (people from their native towns/countries). These were some of the most popular activities in Miami Beach’s tropical shtetl.