A Yiddish play in Philadelphia: The Jewish War Brides (1917)

Poster announcing the Yiddish play The Jewish War Brides at the Arch St, Theater in Philadelphia, February 1917

Newly added to the University of Michigan Library Jewish Heritage Collection, this richly decorated 44 x 28 cm poster announces the premier presentation in Philadelphia of the Yiddish play The Jewish War Brides (דיא אידישע מלחמה כלות), also known by its Yiddish title Milchume kalles. According to the poster, this play was written by Izidor Zalatrepsky and N. (Naḥum) Rakov.

The play – a melodrama – apparently discusses the Jewish women who married military personnel from other countries during World War I. Women who married in that kind of circunstance were known as "war brides". 

The poster indicates that the play is scheduled for February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1917, at the Arch Street Theater, which was located between 6th and 7th streets at Arch street in Philadelphia. The theater opened in 1828 and was demolished in 1936. The building was designed in the Greek Revival style.

As we can read in English on the upper side of the poster, it featured Jacob P. Adler and Sarah Adler as protagonists, along with at least another nine actresses and actors, whose names appear on the bottom of the poster, in Yiddish only. 

Jacob Adler (1855-1926) achived theatrical success in his hometown Odessa as well as in London, and was already an accomplished Yiddish actor when he settled in New York City in 1889. His notable performances included the Yiddish King Lear, Uriel Acosta and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

Also heading from Odessa, Sarah (Levitsky) Adler (1858–1953) was admired for her strong presence on the stage and for elevating the possibilities of Yiddish theater. She performed for the first time at the age of eight and continued to give highly praised performances into her eighties. Jacob Adler was Sarah's second husband. She married Adler in 1891, following his divorce from Dina Shtettin, becoming his third wife.


Adler, Jacob P. A life on the stage: a memoir. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Elkin, Judith Laikin. "Sara Adler", The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women.

Quint, Alyssa. The rise of the modern Yiddish theater. Bloomington, Indiana, 2019.

Zylbercweig, Zalmen. Leḳsiḳon fun Yidishn ṭeaṭer.  Nyu-Yorḳ, 1931-1969.