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Judaica Collection’s “Show Biz” Debut

February 10, 2014—An unpublished Yiddish translation at Harvard of Nikolai Gogol’s Revizor (The Inspector General) serves as the script for the current production of Revizor by Tel Aviv’s YidiShpil Theater, the Yiddish theater of Israel. The Yiddish translation is by Joseph Buloff (1899-1985), a leading figure on the Yiddish stage. This Yiddish script is one of thousands of items in the Judaica Collection’s Joseph Buloff Yiddish Theatre Archive, an extraordinary collection documenting the Yiddish stage careers of Joseph Buloff and his wife Luba Kadison Buloff (1906-2006). The archive was presented to Harvard in 1986 by Luba Buloff and daughter Barbara. The cover of the play’s program prominently bears the credit: “The translation to Yiddish is by Joseph Buloff and it is provided to us by the Judaica Division of the Harvard University Library.”

The production also has another Harvard connection—it stars the American-Israeli actor Mike Burstyn, who in 2006 presented to Harvard the extensive archive of his Yiddish actor parents, Pesach Burstein (1896-1986) and Lilian Lux Burstein (1918-2005). 

Harvard’s Judaica Collection has enormous resources on the Yiddish theater. In addition to the Buloff and Burstein archives, Harvard has the archives of the American Yiddish actors Seymour Rexite (1908-2002) and his wife Miriam Kressyn (1910-1996), Jack Rechtzeit (1903-1988), Leo Fuchs (1911-1994), and the Yiddish theater publicist Max Eisen (1918-2009). Add to this Harvard’s extraordinary collection of materials on the Israeli theater—programs, scripts, flyers, posters, sound and video recordings, and digital photographs—and you have one of the world’s preeminent resources for the study of the Jewish and Israeli theater.