Yiddish Theatres Close As Managers and Unions Fail to Reach Wage Agreement
Menu JTA Search

Yiddish Theatres Close As Managers and Unions Fail to Reach Wage Agreement

Download PDF for this date

All of the Yiddish theatres of Greater New York, nine in number, closed their doors on Sunday night for an indefinite period after their managers and representatives of the theatrical unions failed to agree on wage reductions which the managers demanded as a condition for keeping the theatres open. The closing of the Yiddish theatres affects 700 theatrical employees.


The negotiations reached a deadlock after the stagehands’ and musicians’ unions refused to accept any reduction in salaries of members employed in the Jewish theatres. Other theatrical employes, such as the actors, ushers, doormen and theatre staff workers, who are affiliated with the United Hebrew Trades, were willing to adopt an agreement, provided it would be acceptable to the musicians and stage hands.

On behalf of the theatrical managers, Maurice Schwartz, director of the Yiddish Art Theatre, after a conference held late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, issued the following statement.


“Present conditions made it necessary for us to cut our prices, and in order to do this we had to seek a general reduction of all wages in all departments of each house. We placed the matter before the various unions and made the situation clear. We went so far as to ask representatives of the unions to step into our box offices and see for themselves that it was impossible for us to operate under the present conditions.

“We asked for a 40 percent reduction that would enable us not only to meet our expenses but also would allow us to remain open. At the meeting last night the United Hebrew Trades offered to meet any proposition that the stagehands’ union and the musicians’ union might agree upon. The latter two unions, however, flatly refused to entertain any suggestion that would in any way entail the reduction of their present salaries. In view of this we have no choice left but to close our doors, as it would be cheaper to keep the theatres closed than to remain open under present conditions.

“Although we met terrific losses each week since the season opened three months ago, we continued to operate in order to keep faith with our public.”

The nine Yiddish theatres which have closed are the Yiddish Art, Molly Picon, Public, National, Prospect, Hopkinson, Roland, Odeon and Lyric. It is said that only the Molly Picon Theatre has been able to make any profit during this season.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund