Skip To Content
Forward 50 2015

Zalmen Mlotek

Zalmen Mlotek, 64, has been involved in Yiddish culture practically since before he was born. His mother, Chana Mlotek, who died in 2013, was a folk song researcher, anthologist and long-serving chief archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. His father, Joseph Mlotek, was a writer, educator and cultural activist who served as the educational director of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring Yiddish school system. And for more than 15 years, after receiving an elite musical education at some of the country’s leading conservatories, Mlotek has headed the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene as the organization’s artistic director.

During his tenure at the Folksbiene, Mlotek has directed, produced and performed in countless plays and musical productions and won both Drama Desk Awards and Tony nominations. But this year, which marked the Folksbiene’s 100th anniversary, was really his chance to shine. Over nine days in June the Folksbiene produced Kulturfest: The First Chana Mlotek International Festival of Jewish Performing Arts, a smorgasbord of concerts, plays and other cultural events featuring over 200 artists from more than 30 countries at venues throughout New York City.

With Kulturfest, not to mention his decades of work and dozens of productions, Mlotek showed that his parents’ legacy and that of Yiddish culture is alive and well. Oh — and he’s something more than just another song and dance man!

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.