The play "Shulamis"
had been performed. I had seen nothing
extraordinary. My own Absalom, my husband, that
is, was more important to me than the new
Absalom, but "Tsingetang", Bernstein, was new to
me. ... Bernstein
could give a dance, an improvement on the stage
The public became
tremendously excited. Bernstein soon became a
New York darling. People ran into the Union
Theatre to see "Berele hop". They
applauded him vigorously and always demanded
that he should jump over the jumping (or
He was entirely
unique. Tall and skinny, with a bass voice,
nothing like we were accustomed to from a comic, and long legs.
Concerning his legs, he wore mismatched leggings
in the theater cafe. People would
say that when Bernstein wished it, he could make
them as long as they were, and that when he
wanted, he could make them entirely shorter and
could act as a small, young woman. Mostly, he
need only will it."
According to B.
Botwinick, "Sometimes B. used to dance to the
beat with sideburns or a glued-on beard, and he
used to do it with his original grace.
However much of an
effort B. made to be serious, the audience
laughed all the more, because in his effort to
be serious, he inserted comedy. For a certain
time, he was with Kessler, acting in a serious
role in the play "'Shabse zvi', and outside of
that, as an intrigue, to stick someone with
a knife, the audience gasped with
B. was not any kind
of a painter of characters, no artistic,
literary actor, who portrays a soulful
experience of man. He was a first-class
burlesque comic with many charms, and thus he
played a great role in the first years of
Yiddish theatre, when the burlesque comic was
one of the important elements on the Yiddish
In America, B. was
for many years connected with Thomashefsky, in
whose outstanding operettas he had acted in, but
at the same time B. also had participate in many
dramas and lebensbilds of the American
dramatists, such as Libin, et al., and he was
especially popular through the play "Shmai" in
Gordin's "Kenig lir (King Lear)" with Adler.
B. was one of the
four partners (Sophia Karp, Bernstein, Finkel
and Louis Gottlieb), who had bought the Grand
Theatre in New York, the first theatre that was
directly built as a Yiddish theatre in America.
B. become a
ruined man because his kind [art] of comedy no
longer occupied any important place in
Yiddish theater, and besides that, B.
suffered from a hoarseness, and could no longer
singing with pure clarity.
In 1921 B. took,
together with Sigmund Weintraub a small theatre
in Chicago, but he had no luck; the theatre
closed in mid-season. B. then went away into a
hospital to be operated on, and they found that
he had cancer, and on 29 August 1922 B. passed away
in New York.
B. had two sons who
were connected with the English stage as
musicians and performers.
M. E. from
Bernstein's brother, Kh. Feinstein, Max
Rosenthal and Reuben Weissman.
B. Gorin -- "History of
Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 126, 143,
Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Mayn
lebens geshikhte (My Life Story)", pp. 206,
B. Botwinick -- Berl
bernstein, der berihmter aktyor, velkher iz
nekhten geshtorben, "Forward", 31 August
Boris Thomashefsky -- "Der
ersht farshtorbener komiker berl bernstein,
"Forward", 3 September 1922.