Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Aaron Itzhak Grodzenski


G. was born in 19 October 1891 in Vekshnya, Kovno region, Lithuania. He is descended from chief rabbis [yikhus]. His grandfather was a rabbi in Ivye. His father's brother was the well-known Gaon R' Chaim Uzer Grodzenski in Vilna. His father was qualified as a rabbi, but he took up business instead. Due to an incident at birth, and through an error by a town doctor, had to live for his entire life with a deep-tseshedikte vocal volume. As a child of three his parents took him to Vilna, where he learned in a cheder. At the age of thirteen he entered a Russian progymnasium, where he learned for four to five years. He read much, and at an early age began to write. At age seventeen he published his first song in Yiddish, and in 1910 went away to Antwerp, where he learned to sharpen his instruments, and he became the co-founder of the local society "Kultur" and worked with various Yiddish periodicals in Western Europe.

In 1913 he returned to Vilna, where he began to contribute to the local Yiddish newspapers, issuing in 1914 his first book of songs "Eynzame klangen." During the First World War, together with his parents, he was evacuated to Yekaterinoslav, where he fell down,  and in 1916, under a tramway and both legs became paralyzed. Nisht gekut deroyf, he threw himself with great energy into writing. He worked with the local Yiddish press, translating Pushkin's "Poltava" and "Yevgeni oniegin", which since 1923 was a Yiddish opera production in Vilna. He returned in 1921 to Vilna, where there he became active in the periodicals, put out a novel, a "muterlekhe gefiln," a lebenspiel in four scenes (Vilna, 1923, 49 pp.), published several translations, and since 1924 ,until the

outbreak of the Second World War, issued the afternoon newspaper "Der ovnt-kurier", which obtained farheltnismesik, and a very high nationwide circulation. There he also very often published reviews and articles about the Yiddish theatre.

In November 1936, when the Germans were in Vilna, G., together with his wife and children, were in the Vilna Ghetto.

Sh. Katsherginski wrote about his last stage:

"Secretary of the union of Yiddish literature and journalism in Vilna, with his wife and children, were in the ghetto. In bloody chaos, 1941, he was constantly tempted to endure (?), and to the end had the murderer caught. He had shtelt against  them, and said that "no one living shall take me". They hit him and carried him from his home and threw him into a farmakhtn automobile. which took him away to Ponar with the old and the sick who could not go on foot. In a short time, there was also murdered his wife (a dentist), with their two children."

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", New York, 1931, vol. I, p. 506.

  • "Lexicon of the New Yiddish Literature", New York, 1958, Vol. II, pp. 333-335.

  • Sh. Katsherginski -- "Khurbn vilne (The Destruction of Vilna)", New York, 1947, p. 186.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4329.
You can read Aaron Itzhak's initial biography in Vol. I of the Lexicon.

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