YIVO Jewish Culture Series



The YIVO Jewish Culture Series was developed in partnership with the YIVO Institute for Educational Research. (YIVO.org)  The YIVO is a Jewish cultural institution known for its world renowned library and archive of Jewish history and culture.  The lecture series presenters are drawn from the extensive network of scholars affiliated with the YIVO. The events are open to the broader community.

“We are delighted with the success of YIVO’s Jewish Culture Series at Riverdale Temple. The overwhelming response to these lectures and events demonstrates the great need for substantive programming about Jewish history and culture for the public.” —Jonathan Brent, YIVO Executive Director

2017-2018 Program Year


April 29June 3

Sunday afternoons at 2pm in the sanctuary at Riverdale Temple

Entry is FREE to all. (Donations are welcome)

April 29th  Strange But True Stories from the Yiddish Press

True Stories chronicling infamies of Jewish Life in America before WW II

Dr. Eddy Portnoy, senior researcher and exhibition curator at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, presents chronicles about the infamies of urban Jewish life as seen through

the pages of the Yiddish press prior to WWII. One part Isaac Bashevis Singer and one part Jerry Springer, these irreverent, unvarnished, and frequently hilarious stories provide a window into an unknown Yiddish world that was.

June 3rd Exploring the Yiddish Stage in ‘America
Stefanie Halpern discusses the Yiddish stage in America and its impact on American English theater

This talk by Yiddish theater scholar Stefanie Halpern will situate the Yiddish theater as essential to a more complete understanding of the American theatrical institution, looking at the ways in which Yiddish drama, performance, artists, and audiences transitioned from the American Yiddish theater to the Mainstream American English language stage. By exploring the Yiddish stage in America as a site of crossover, this multi-media lecture will demonstrate that it was not merely an ethnic theater that existed on the margins, but rather an important cultural phenomenon that was part and parcel of the American theatrical institution.

Stephanie Halpern received her PhD from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  Her articles have appeared in the Drama Review and the Journal of Ritual Studies. She was the associate curator on the exhibition “New York’s Yiddish Theater from the Bowery to Broadway” at the Museum of the City of New York.  A project archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, she is also the content specialist for YIVO’s Shine Online educational series, whose newest class on Yiddish theater will launch on May, 2018.