Celebrate Jewish American culture with us this May at our festival at Forest Hills Library!
Our special events will include music, singing, stories of the Yiddish theater, and more, with talented performers, outstanding educators, and acclaimed authors.
"Our Jewish American Heritage Month programs have been an annual event at Forest Hills Library and a tremendous hit with the community," said Forest Hills's Assistant Community Library Manager, Vijay Ramanathan. "These programs attract large crowds each year who love the presenters and performers. Many people have gained a great deal from celebrating the heritage of such a vital force within our community."
All events will take place at Forest Hills Library, at 108-19 71st Avenue. We hope you will join us all month long!
Monday, May 6 at 6pm
The Story of the Yiddish Theater in Words and Music: A Concert Lecture Performed by Diane Cypkin, Ph.D
The Yiddish theater is not merely a historical curiosity from a bygone age but is a force that is still felt throughout the entertainment industry today. As a native Yiddish speaker who has performed in many Yiddish stage productions, Diane Cypkin is uniquely able to combine her performance and professorial skills to tell the story of the Yiddish theater in a way that is both entertaining and educational. Between renditions of some of the great songs from the Yiddish stage, she will share tales of the Yiddish theater and its formidable and colorful characters, whose presence can still be felt on stage and screen. Dr. Cypkin will be accompanied on piano by Lena Panfilova, who is a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory.
Thursday, May 9 at 6pm
Oy, America! Miryem-Khaye Seigel in Concert
Whether through a lament, a comic quip, or a shout of joy, Yiddish permeates New York City’s extraordinary soundtrack, from the sweatshop to the stage. Each song tells a story—of a homesick worker, a fallen soul, a pioneering artist who dared to dream. Join Miryem-Khaye Seigel, a Yiddish singer and songwriter who “exemplifies the attempt to bring a centuries-old language and culture into the contemporary world” (The New York Times), and pianist Tracy Stark for an exuberant exploration of Yiddish song in all of its moods, with laughter, tears, and a few surprises. Translations are provided!
Monday, May 13 at 6pm
Stalin's Yiddish Theatre by Allen Lewis Rickman
Solomon Mikhoels, one of the outstanding actors of the U.S.S.R., was murdered on the direct order of Stalin himself. Ten thousand people, risking their own lives, paid their respects at his funeral. Why? In this illustrated talk by Yiddish theater historian, actor, writer, and director Allen Lewis Rickman, rare film clips and live performance will show you why the State Jewish Theater in Moscow was considered one of the greatest theaters in the world in its day. And you will learn about the real-life Faust who kept Jewish culture alive within walking distance of the Kremlin.
Thursday, May 16 at 6pm
Hy Wolfe Sings Vintage Rarely Performed Yiddish Songs
Hy Wolfe has been singing Yiddish songs since he was 5 years old, and his work includes acting and singing performances that have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, the New York Post, and the New York Daily News. As President of the Hebrew Actor’s Foundation, the oldest acting union in America, Hy works tirelessly to pursue the dream of a kleyn-kunst (small art) Yiddish theater and museum located in the storied Hebrew Actors Union Building in NYC that will highlight the immigrant experience of Yiddish speakers who first came to America and the lives they lived. It will also highlight the role Yiddish theater had in the foundation and growth of Hollywood and Yiddish theater’s influence on 20th-century theater and music. Hy will sing a collection of unique songs, like “I’m a Litvak and She’s a Galitz,” and a repertoire of vintage, rarely-performed Yiddish songs that deserve a chance to shine once again. Hy translates everything into English, so, you will follow every moment of the performance. He will once again be accompanied at the piano by Steve Sterner.
Monday, May 20 at 6pm
Miss Mitzi Manna in Her First-Ever Farewell Tour
Back by popular demand! Tel Aviv…Rio de Janeiro...Montevideo…Berlin…Buenos Aires…the Bronx…Mitzi Manna, international star of the Yiddish theater, has amused audiences the world over and now, for one night only, she’ll be reprising her performance for the Queens Public Library. Mitzi sings and recites songs and poems written for and about her in her beloved mame-loshn, and she spills all the tea from her long and checkered career. Described by the National Enquirer as “an unstoppable force of nature” and by the Times of Israel as “a cheap date,” Mitzi Manna (brought to life by the pixillated mind of Shane Baker, whom The New York Times declares “one of the most prominent proponents of Yiddish theater, language, and culture in New York”) will leave you wanting more. Or less. More or less.
Friday, May 31 at 4pm
Book Presentation: The Daughter's Tale (La hija olvidada)
Armando Lucas Correa, the bestselling author of The German Girl, will discuss his new novel. A desperate mother flees the horrors of Nazi Germany with all she has left: her two daughters and a precious book, only to arrive in the South of France with the younger girl and the tattered book. Una madre desesperada huye de los horrores de la Alemania nazi con lo único que le queda: dos hijas y su libro más preciado. Días después, llega al sur de Francia solo con la más pequeña y el libro mutilado.