Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Benjamin Epstein


E. was born on 1 December 1899 in Vilna, Polish Lithuania. His parents were owners of a wine business. He learned in a cheder, and after his father's death was raised by his grandfather, who took him to the townspeople, where E. learned in a yeshiva. At the age of nine, he went off to Vilna, where he learned with his grandfather and then completed eight classes of a Russian early school.

In 1909 he performed "theatre" in Russian by himself in homes with his school friends, the actors-to-be Joseph Buloff [Bulkin] and Osya Shteyn [Kamien], in improvised "plays". During the first world war, he transformed his mother's wine cellar into a "theatre" and acted there with the above-mentioned for admission money. Later for one-and-a-half years he was conductor of the band for the German occupying forces. In 1917 he participated as an assistant theatre director in Buloff's offering of Dymov's "Der zinger fun zeyn troyer (The Singer of his Sorrows)", in February 1918 he entered into the Vilna Yiddish State Theatre under the name of Azro. Soon thereafter he participated in the sporadic productions under the direction of Shteyn, Morevsky, then a season with Lipovski. In 1920 -- with Kaminski and Turkow, then under the direction of David Herman. For six months he left the stage and worked in a leather factory. E. participated again in various Warsaw Yiddish troupes. In 1923 he was in the Vilna drama, 1926 -- in "Vik't", with whom he went on tour in Rumania. For a certain time E. returned to the Vilna Yiddish Theatre, then managed with various Yiddish troupes across the Polish province.


S. Katsherginski writes:
"In the Vilna Ghetto he was director of a theatre. His good administrative activity created from the theatre a [bamtdike] institute, with which we would also able to proudly in free time (?).

He was killed in Klage (Estonia)."

His wife, Fanya Epstein-Kaminska, a pianist, also was murdered by the Nazis.

Sh. E. from Dora Rabina.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", Warsaw, 1934, Vol. II, pp. 1587-88.

  • Sh. Katsherginski -- "Khurgn vilna", New York,1947, p. 223.







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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4195.
You can read Benjamin Epstein's initial Lexicon biography in volume 2 by clicking here.

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