(April 29, 2013) – On Wednesday, May 15 at 7:00 p.m., the Westfield Memorial Library will present a program called “In Words and Music: The Story of the Yiddish Theatre.” The library is located at 550 East Broad Street.

The program will be presented by Dr. Diane Cypkin, a professor of media, communications and visual arts at Pace University and a lifetime entertainer. Through English narration, she’ll tell the story of Yiddish theatre, singing in Yiddish, many of the memorable songs written and/or popularized by unforgettable greats like Avrom Goldfaden, Boris Thomashefsky, Aaron Lebedev, Molly Picon, Joseph Rumshinsky, Alexander Olshanetsky, Jennie Goldstein, Abraham Ellstein, Jacob Jacobs, Sholom Secunda, Menashe Skulnik, Herman Yablokoff, the Barry Sisters, and more

She also notes the valuable artistic contributions made by dramatic greats like Jacob P. Adler, Jacob Gordin, Bertha Kalich, Keni Liptzin, Maurice Schwartz, and Jacob Ben-Ami. 

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Dr. Cypkin has appeared in many Yiddish language musical productions spanning more than two decades. She was Sheyne, opposite Joseph Buloff in Ossip Dymov’s Yoshke muzikant (Joseph the Musician) at the Folksbiene Playhouse; Beylke, David Opatoshu’s daughter, in Sholom Aleichem’s Dos groyse gevins (The Big Winner) at the Eden Theatre; Gitale in Ben Bonus’s production of Light, Lively, and Yiddish at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway; and Tsirl in the Mary Soriano presentation Di Yidishe Tsigaynerke (The Jewish Gypsy) at Town Hall in New York.

She has done a great deal of concert work. Some highlights: in New York, in conjunction with her exhibition at Lincoln Center entitled, Molly Picon: Yiddish Star, American Star, she presented a lecture/concert on "Molly Picon and Her Yiddish Music"; in Washington, D.C., she gave a concert of her father’s — Abraham Cypkin’s — songs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum when the museum presented an exhibition on the Kovno Ghetto of Lithuania. Dr. Cypkin is a child of Holocaust survivors in Lithuania. In 1981, she sang at the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Jerusalem, Israel. She has worked in the English-speaking theatre as both singer and actor in shows. In addition, she has directed productions of The World of Sholom Aleichem, The Theatre of Peretz, and Green Fields.

In 2007, she curated the aforementioned exceptionally well-received exhibition at Lincoln Center, New York on Molly Picon. For almost 10 years she was Yiddish Theatre Consultant at the Museum of the City of New York and curated the highly successful exhibition, A Celebration: 100 years of Yiddish Theatre in New York. Dr. Cypkin is a recipient of the Kenan Award for Teaching Excellence and the Pace University President’s "Extra Mile" Award.

The program is free and open to Westfield Memorial Library and MURAL cardholders. (MURAL cardholders belong to libraries that are part of the Middlesex Union Reciprocal Agreement Libraries. Check our website to see if your library participates.) To register for the program, visit the library’s website at www.wmlnj.org, click on the Calendar tab, or call 908.789.4090 ext 0.

Founded in 1879, the Westfield Memorial Library—the community’s destination for discovery and ideas—engages minds, entertains spirits and facilitates lifelong learning for people of all ages. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information call 908.789.4090, visit the library’s website at www.wmlnj.org, and sign up for the monthly e-newsletter “Library Loop,” or stop by the library at 550 East Broad Street for a copy of the award-winning quarterly newsletter “Take Note.”