Sisterhood Blog

Second Avenue Songbird Selma Kaye

By Chana Pollack

  • Print
  • Share Share

Welcome to Throwback Thursday, a weekly photo feature in which we sift 116 years of Forward history to find snapshots of women’s lives.

In the early 1950s, Second Avenue Yiddish Theatre Manager Joseph Rumshinsky and Composer Edmund Zayenda were hell bent on finding their songbird, best able to represent their latest play “My Lucky Day.” For them and the play’s writer, Louis Freiman, there was only one option — it had to be an opera singer. They relentlessly auditioned singers, but kept being referred to a local “Brooklyn girl,” Selma Kaye, who had been featured at Radio City Music Hall and moved on from there to become a leading performer in the operas of Chicago, Cincinnati and San Francisco. If you could take the girl out of Brooklyn, could you then return her to Second Avenue? While Rumshinsky and gang pondered how to lure her back — Kaye’s formidable talents found her at Milan’s La Scala — they remained determined she was their songbird. Her career was in full bloom — she was singing at Covent Garden in London — and then she finally returned to Second Avenue.

Forward Association

Born to an Orthodox family in Brooklyn, Kaye was encouraged by her family to pursue a career in Yiddish Theater. Her beautiful voice put her on the path of a musical career and there she blossomed. Reportedly, her mother encouraged the producers of “My Lucky Day,” telling them not to worry about affording the now-famous opera star — that she would make sure her daughter took the role on Second Avenue.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: archives, Yiddish, Selma Kaye, Throwback Thursday, Jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.