A Khasene in Shtetl

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A Khasene in Shtetl (Yiddish for A Wedding in the Village / A Village Wedding, also called A Shtetl Wedding / A Wedding in the Shtetl; Yiddish: אַ חתונה אין שטעטל) is a Yiddish musical theater play written by William Siegel (or: Segal), with music by Herman Wohl, which was first performed at the National Theater on Second Avenue and Houston Street, in New York City, in September 1930, starring Aaron Lebedeff.[1]

Later, Pesach Burstein, a Jewish Polish-American performer in the Yiddish theater, became well known for directing and acting in the play. Burstein's troupe, and most notably his immediate family – his wife Lillian Lux, and later also his son Mike Burstyn and daughter Susan Burstein (all part of the advertised Four Bursteins) – went around the globe giving theater performances for audiences of the Yiddish-speaking diaspora. While panned by critics, the play was able to engage a vast variety of audiences, in locales as diverse as (pre-Holocaust) Eastern Europe, Israel, Latin America and the United States.

The play was one of several Old World counterparts to Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer. The play depicts the trials of a rabbi's son going on stage. Pesach Burstein was well acquainted with Al Jolson, as he had signed up for a contract with Columbia Records sometime before. The play was probably also based on some autobiographical elements, as Burstein ran away from his Polish family to join a mobile Yiddish theater group.

Extensive footage of the play, and information regarding it, are presented in the 2000 documentary about the Burstein family, The Komediant.[2]


  1. ^ Zylberczweig, Zalmen (1934). "Siegel, William" (Yiddish). In: Zylbercweig, with the assistance of Jacob Mestel, Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Lexicon of the Yiddish theatre]. Vol. 2. Warsaw. Cols. 1470-1483; here: col. 1476. English translation at the Museum of Family History website: "William Siegel; retrieved 2016-11-20.
  2. ^ The Komediant, New Yorker Video, New York, 1999