Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Sonia Ariel


Born on 4 January 1892 in Lodz, Poland. Parents- owners of a restaurant where Yiddish actors used to eat. Learned privately. At the age of fourteen she was taken by actors to Odessa into the chorus of Avraham Fishzon, where for several months until the troupe arrived in Yekaterinoslav, where she had her father, who didn't want her leave "with his actors", and she was sent home.

In Lodz she again went into the chorus of a Yiddish theatre of Kaminski, and toured with various troupes as a chorister. At first when with Kaminski in Odessa, the actress Nadia Neroslavska became sick, and A. performed for her in the role of "Heyse babkelekh" in "Koldunye".

Returning to Lodz, she again entered into the chorus of Zandberg, however here there came changes in her career. About this, Zalmen Zylbercweig recalls:

"When Aaron Lebedeff came to guest-star in Lodz's Grand Theatre for Zandberg, he found himself in an embarrassing [position]. He hadn't partnered with whom to act in the entire troupe. The prima donnas and soubrettes of that time were all either physically or artistically unable to adapt to Lebedeff. He had an elegant, outgoing, well-dressed man. His movements were graceful. He performed with an odd lightness. that was entirely new, and the soubrettes and prima donnas in the troupe, although they were famous actresses with names,


had themselves however not fit into his repertoire, and especially not to the manner of his acting, and here his eye fell on the chorister Sonia Ariel, who had a brother in the chorus who at times used to receive small roles. Lebedeff, with her, had studied so thoroughly her role that she became a sensation with her acting, and before we came around, she was counted on as a reputable actress. Later she even married that prominent entrepreneur and manager of the troupe, Iser Bezman".

During the First World War, she had, under the name of Sonia Bezman, acted in Russia in the troupes of her husband and of Young-Bezman. In 1925 she returned to Lodz, and since she again acted with the local member troupes.

The actor Moshe Pulaver, who had been saved from the Lodz ghetto, writes that when the Germans had created the Lodz ghetto on 11 May 1941, there were found twelve professional Yiddish actors, including A. with her son. Her further fate is not mentioned, but she was no exception: she fell a victim of the Nazis.

Sh. E. from Zalmen Zylbercweig.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", New York, 1931, Vol. I, p. 96.

  • Moshe Pulaver -- "Geven iz a geto", Tel Aviv, 1963, p. 59.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3827.
You can slso see Sonia's original Lexicon biography in Vol. I.

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