Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yasha Beltser
(Yakov Belfer)


Born in 1897 in Beltz, Bessarabia, into a poor family.

He studied in a cheder, then in a school.

Once, when the parents traveled to a wedding, the eight-year-old B. caused a real "pogrom" at home: he gathered kids on the street and organized a "theatre" at home. The hits and smacks that he received on this account from his father cooled off his pull to this "art", but did not kill it all together.

At age seventeen, B. organized a drama circle of "amateurs" (including actors-to-be Leibl Golvog -- later the actor Leon Gold in America), Khaim Gutman, Ben Zion Berdichevski, Edelman). A year later B. arrived in Odessa with Korik's cast, making his debut as Solomon in "Dovids fidele". Then he played several seasons with Sabsey, Rappel, Dranov et al; in 1916 with Lipovizki, Kristerman, Fridman, many seasons with Albert Segalesco and Rosa Brin, and he had the opportunity to play the role of "Itzik" in Hirshbein's "Puste kretchme", Dr. Kerzentzev in Andreyev's "Gedank" and "Karl Mor" in Schiller's "Di royber", then in Kiev with Yakov Libert and Rakitin, Zaslavski, Nuger.

In 1923 in Dnepropetrovsk, in "Kunst-vinkl (Artistic Corner)" with Leah Bugova, Sheynberg, Treystman, Kaplan, Dobrovinski, Nitzberg, Leyptsiger, Meyerson, later in Moldava's wandering theatre.


In 1935, B. was both actor and stage director in the Vinnitsa Jewish Theatre, in 1936 in Zhitomir Jewish Worker's [kolkhaz] theatre "Sholem Aleichem". The theatre researcher and critic Lyubomirsky took a special note in the Russian magazine "Theatre" of B.'s performance in Lipe Resnik's "The Enemy at the Gate" and "Torquemada" in Victor Hugo's play. At the same time B. was busy with teaching, transmitting his experience to the younger generation.

By the time of the World War II, B. found himself in Middle Asia where he performed as a stage artist visiting many military hospitals with literary recitations to help wounded soldiers

In 1947, B. was a stage director in Lemberg playing there the lead role an “Tevye der Milkhiker (Tevye the Milkman” (in his adaptation), then in the Ukraine where her directed Kulbak’s “Boystre” (playing the lead role), “The Two Kuni Lemls” (“Max”), “Kabtsonzon un hungerman,” “Hershele ostropoler” (“Kalman”), ”Uriel Acosta”, ”Familiye avadis” (“Zanvill Avadis”), “Der umbakanter”, and in his translated plays by Chekkhov, Tolstoy and Mark Twain.

After the World War II, B. settled in Kovno where since 1960 he organized and led the Jewish dramatic group at the Trade Union Culture Palace, touring the cities and towns of Lithuania bringing Jewish masses the Jewish literary word.

B. also composed a three-act play “Keynmol nit fargesn” about the [shoyderlikhe retsikhes] of the Hitlerite murderers and the Lithuanian fascist nationalists.

The play was performed on 6 April 1965 in Kovno, and Munye Gleyzer and Peretz Zelmanovsky wrote about it:

“The performance was very successful, and was widely praised in the press that [untergeshtrokhn] Yakov Beltser’s talent both as an author and as a stage director and actor of a most galvanizing whose main motif is amity among national groups and the struggle against racism and fascism....

Sh. E. and Sh. E. from Mark Leyptsiker.

  • I. Yonas -- Derfalgreykhe farshtelungen fun idishn teater in kovne un vilne, "M'f", N. Y., 11 June 1965.

  • Munie Gleyzer un Peretz Zelmanovsky -- 50 yor oyf der idhser bine, dort, 1 December 1965.

  • L. Even --Derfolgreykhe forshtelung in kovne fun idisher teater grupe, dort, 10 August 1967.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5694.

Translation courtesy of Gabriel Goldberger

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.