The Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, the longest-running Yiddish theatre company in the world, was formed in 1915 as a response to the light, escapist fare then on offer to immigrant audiences, and its commitment to high-quality Yiddish-language theater continued through the decades. It was sustained by two of the company’s veteran members — Morris Adler, who joined the company in 1934, and Zypora Spaisman, who joined twenty years later. During their tenure, the Folksbiene became a bastion for Yiddish theater and culture.

Morris Adler stopped performing in 1985 to become President Emeritus of the company. He passed away on December 27, 2001, at the age of 107. Zypora Spaisman eventually became the artistic director and remained the company’s lead actress until 1999. She passed away on May 18, 2002. In this American Talker piece, Adler and Spaisman remember the roughly half century they each spent with the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater.

Recorded in New York City. Premiered December 1, 1996, on Weekend Edition Saturday.

This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.