Hunkered Down


Yelena Shmulenson and Allen Lewis Rickman

Season 1, Ep. 23

Here are two actors working in – and out – of New York City’s Yiddish Theatre. Ever since the great immigration of Jews from Europe New York City has been the center of Yiddish theatre which continues at such venues as the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbienne in downtown Manhattan since 1915.

Yelena Shmulenson was born in Belarus and came to the US with her family in 1993. She studied acting at Marymount College and learned Yiddish at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. And is known for her work on The Good Shepherd (2006) and Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish (2010), and inmate Boyle on “Orange is the New Black.”

Allen Lewis Rickman grew up in Far Rockaway in a Yiddish-speaking family. He attended Modern Orthodox schools and studied film at Brooklyn College. He is known for his work on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Boardwalk Empire as actor and translator, You Don't Know Jack and The Cobbler (2014) – and is quite busy as a Yiddish translator and he lectures and writes about Yiddish Theatre.  

Yelena and Allen are probably best known for the brilliant opening of the Coen brother’s “A Serious Man” which we got to at the end of the conversation. And -- do not miss Yelena's Allen's rendition of a piece about a kazen-lover and baseball.

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