On An-sky's Dybbuk Art-Research Projects

Research, art projects, conference and courses on the topic of The Dybbuk


Possession and Dispossession: Performing Jewish Ethnography in Jerusalem. De Gruyter, 2022. Publisher's Version

Diego Rotman, 2022. ״Dancing with the Dead: Possession and Nationalism in the Old-new Film Der Dybbuk, 1937-2017״  in ibid.

Diego Rotman. 2019. “Danzando con los muertos Posesion y nacionalismo en el film performance Der Dibuk 1937 2017.” In El dibuk : Entre dos mundos. Un siglo de metáforas, edited by Susana Skura and Melina Di Miro. Jujuy: Universidad Nacional de Jujuy. 

Diego Rotman. 2009. “The Dybbuk is not Moyshe Sne - On the Satirical Parody "Der Nayer Dybbuk [Heb.].” In "Do not Chase Me Away" : New Studies on the Dybbuk [Al na tegarshuni : ʻiyunim ḥadashim beha-Dibuḳ], edited by Dorit Yerushalmi and Shimon Levy. Tel Aviv.

Diego Rotman (forthcoming) "An-sky's Dybbuk as Destination"



The Dybbuk - Undisciplining the Archive [Conference program]


Academic Course

Dybbuk: Between Theatre and Ethnography - 20549

In the course we deal with the phenomena of the Dybbuk in the Jewish tradition and in Hebrew and Yiddish theater. According to the Jewish tradition the dybbuk is the spirit of a dead person who takes over a living body and speaks from his or her throat with his or her own voice. In the frame of the course we deal with stories about possession and dybbuks in the Jewish tradition, about S. An-sky ethnography expedition to Volhynia, Podolia and Kiev (1912-1914), and we’ll examine how the folklore about dybbuks was turned into one of the most important theater pieces in the history of the Hebrew and Yiddish theater. We  work on a research performative project to be presented to the public which will include short performative pieces, talks, readings, created or written by the students).

Performance and Research Projects 

Der Dybbuk (1937-2022) 

Directed by Michael Waszynski (Poland, 1937) with a new edition by Adi Kaplan, Shachar Carmel & Sala-manca (2017)

Live dubbing  by Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman (Sala-manca group), Live Follies by Adi Kaplan, Shachar Carmel and Ayu Rotman Mauas  (Follies and Singing) & Live Music and score by Yarden Erez


Der Dybbuk (1937-2017) 

Directed by Michael Waszynski (Poland, 1937) with a new edition by Adi Kaplan, Shachar Carmel & Sala-manca (2017)|. Live dubbing by Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman (Sala-manca group), Live Follies by Adi Kaplan, Shachar Carmel and Ayu Rotman Mauas & Live Music by The Jerusalem Street Orchestra, conducted by Ido Shpitalnik. Performed in the frame of the Jerusalem Film Festival, Israel Festiva and Timisoara Capital of European Culture 2018.

״The dead were returned to life, and a culture long vanished, wiped out by the Holocaust, was resurrected on the screen” (Ira Konigsberg)

In November 2014, a 20-minute re-edited version of the Yiddish film was screened in the attic of the former Jerusalem leprosarium, today the Hansen House for Art, Design and Technology. Israeli artists and life-partners Adi Kaplan and Shahar Carmel, not only re-edited the film but also replaced the original music composed by Henekh Kohn as well as the cantorial songs performed by Gershon Sirotta. The new score, performed live by the Jerusalem Young Symphonic Orchestra, was an adapted version of the Vltva (The Moldau), the second symphonic poem of Má vlast (My Homeland) composed by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in the 1870s. In July 2017, a new and longer version of this new edition of Waszyński’s film, this time edited by the Sala-manca group of which I am a member, was screened and performed on the patio of the same leprosarium as part of the Jerusalem Film Festival.  The re-edited version of the film with English and Hebrew subtitles was projected onto a big screen hanging on one of the walls. In this version, the entire soundtrack of the film was silent, giving way to a live performance that included a newly composed score based on Smetana’s Má vlast. This time the score was performed live by 28 musicians from the Jerusalem Street Orchestra, conducted by Ido Shpitalnik, who also contributed adaptations of the new fragments of the music.

Theater scholar Marvin Carlson once characterized theater as “a simulacrum of the cultural and historical process itself […] The present experience is always ghosted by previous experiences and associations while these ghosts are simultaneously shifted and modified by the processes of recycling and recollection.” Der Dybbuk 1937-2017—based on Waszyński’s film, which is based on An-ski’s theater piece, which was itself based on folkloric tales of dybbuk possession recollected from Jewish communities of the Pale of Settlement—invites us to approach the work as a multilayered ghosted performative experience of “recycling and recollection".

This project , in some way, adds a new reflection to the interpretation presented through the film’s performance. In some way, this changing of masks—from creative to scholarly— echoes the dual academic and artistic activity of An-ski.  I propose framing the new film-performance of the Dybbuk not only as an allegory and as a ghosted performance but also as a collaboration with the dead, the idea of “intermundane collaboration” developed by Jason Stanyek and Benjamim Piekut.

With the support of  Ostrovsky Family Fund,  Artis Grant Program, Polish Institute – Tel Aviv, P.A.T. (Performance Art and Technology), Hazira, Jerusalem Municipality, The National Authority for Yiddish Culture, Bet Shalom Aleichem.


In his/her Voice | The Voice of the Word Performance Festival, 2014 - Hansen House, Jerusalem

Participating Artists: Adi Kaplan, Shachar Carmel, Tom Soloveichik, Alex Drool, Josef Sprinzak, Carmel Bar, Li Lorian, Adam Yodfat, Victoria Hanna, Noam Inbar, Shira Borer, Jerusalem Conservatory Chamber Orchestra with Conductor Michael Klinghoffer, Ilan Volkov, Zohar Shafir, Tomer Damsky, Eran Sachs, Maya Dunitz

Curators: The Sala-Manca Group (Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman) and Guy Biran


"If An-sky's Dybbuk were a site or a place, if the drama were defragmented into independent scenes, if the spectators were active travelers and the curators the tour guides of different fragments of the performance, An-sky's Dybbuk would become a (post)-dramatic destination instead of a dramatic legend as An-sky put it. This was the approach that guided us, the curators of a performance festival, when we planned to revisit An-sky's Dybbuk in 2014. That year, Lea Mauas and I (as the Sala-manca Group) got an invitation from Guy Biran, then director of Hazira Theater in Jerusalem, to co-curate with him the "Voice of the Word Festival" [kola shel hamila], a festival dedicated to the intersections between poetry, performance, voice, theater, and the visual arts. Guy Biran's invitation reached us at a time when we were deeply involved in a long-term curatorial research project on the connections between contemporary art and ethnography as part of our work as artistic directors of the Mamuta Art and Research Center in Jerusalem. The outcomes of this on-going project were to become an exhibition entitled "The Ethnographic Department of the Museum of the Contemporary." The research project was focused on two folklorists active at the beginning of the 20th century: Sh. An-sky (Shloyme Zangwill Rapoport),  a Jewish folklorist well-known for his ethnographic expedition in Volhynia and Podolia in 1912-1914 and author of The Dybbuk, and Dr. Tawfiq Canaan,  a Palestinian physician and ethnographer, who served as the director of the Jesus Hilfe Leprosarium, today the Hansen House for Art and Technology where the Mamuta Art and Research Center is based.  In tandem with this, I was teaching a first-time course on An-sky's Dybbuk at the Department of Theater Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem entitled "Dybbuk: Between Theater and Ethnography." [from "An-sky's Dybbuk as Destination" (forthcoming)