Chayela Rosenthal

Chayela Rosenthal

Born 1929, Chayela Rosenthal survived the Death March and illness during the Holocaust to bring life back to Yiddish Theatre in the 1950s. She started out as a teenage actress of the Vilna Ghetto Theatre during Nazi occupation, where she performed to encourage and entertain her fellow ghetto residents. In September 1943, Chayala and her sister, Mary, were deported by the Germans to the labour camp, Kaiserweld, in Riga. She continued to perform in the camp, giving hope to the other inmates, who shared their food in return and helped her when she was sick. After the war, Chayala married another Holocaust survivor, and they came to South Africa in 1951. After touring South Africa in the 50s, she chose to move to Cape Town and raised her two daughters, Zola and Naava, there. She died at age 55 of cancer, after a final performance in “The Fiddler on the Roof”. The collection gathers images of her various performances during her life, both in the European ghetto and later on during theatrical tours. Identification documents and performance advertisements add additional value to the overall collection, giving a closer look at her travels and career through the years.


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