Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Ludvig Levinzon

Born in 1844 (according to Yaakov Dinensohn, in 1842) in Zamosc, Lublin region, Poland, to observant, poor parents. In his youth, he mastered foreign languages, and was renown as an outstanding master of Polish and German. Additionally, L. became familiar with European literature, and at the age of twenty and some odd years, he undertook to travel through Poland as a private tutor in the houses of the wealthy in a variety of cities (Rawa, Kunta, Warsaw, Mlawa).

 In 1880 – he came to Warsaw, where he was hired by the Jewish community, and he worked there for twenty-four years. L. began his activity as a writer in Hebrew (on the basis of leftover writings and letters), in 1870, with his book ‘Jepthah’s Oath’ and later wrote other Hebrew novels and stories.

Sh. Schwerdshaff writes: "About in the year 1880, Levensohn began to write in Yiddish (satirical poems). The comedy ‘’Vybershe kniplach’ (in which it is not clear whether L. or Israel-Meir Wohlman is the author, sse: ‘Lex. Yid. Teat.’ [pp. 641-644] was written in 1880-81, apparently (?) in Mlawa. This work appeared without any attribution by name. However, it was sufficiently popular. Levensohn himself would say:

 "When I walk on Francziskaner (a street in Warsaw) and I see that women are reading something and are laughing, I think that they are reading ‘Die vybershe kniplakh.'"

... apart from the ‘Kniplach,’ Levensohn wrote another comedy, ?‘Shlomkeh ibn fass’ where fun is made of a Litvak who is trying to cotton up to a ‘Polish’ woman of valor.

...Levensohn also collaborated in many of Peretz’s offerings. Levensohn’s correspondences are a testament to his well-rounded education, and a great deal of acuity to his observations. Apart from this, he loved to observe the lives of the common people. Despite the fact that later on he lived in a more explicitly assimilated milieu, nevertheless, his greatest pleasure was to go and listen to Jews speaking and – in addition to this, convey this within his own writing.

‘Di vybershe kniplach,’ since 1873, have appeared in several collections, always anonymously, or under the name of ??? – Y. M. Wohlman, but never under L’s name.

According to Z. Reyzen, the first Vilna publication came out visibly in 1873. In 1874, a new publication appeared (in a Russian commentary to an 1881 appearance, where it is meaningfully said: ‘From the Vilna presentation of 1874'). In 1881, ‘Die vybershe kniplach’ appeared in a theatre version written for five acts, put out by ??? – Vilna, 5641(1881) (with the Russian addendum: ‘Written by Y. M. Wohlman’), printed by Rosenkrantz Publishers.’

In the Warsaw reprint, it is called the ‘Excommunication of Rabbi Gershon, or Die vybershe kniplach. One presentation in five acts, written in rhyme. The story takes place in a small shtetl, in Little Poland, Warsaw. Printed by R’ Joseph Lebenzohn (without a year of publication, with the censor’s permission dated 11 April 1882).

Dr. Jacob Shatzky has, in his possession, an anonymous Warsaw edition from 1877 (??, Munk, 48, Z. Klein 8).

During the time that A. Litwin speaks explicitly about Wohlman being the author of the comedy, and Sh. L. Citron attests to the characteristic basis of Wohlman’s authorship in that Wohlman in his private life was married to six wives, Zalmen Reyzen comes along – relying on them and on a comparison of the Vilna and Warsaw texts – and concludes that the genuine author of the comedy was Wohlman, but at most, it is possible that L. edited the Polish variant of Wohlman’s comedy. Also, Abraham Reyzen tells in his ‘Episodes’ that in 1906-07, he met with Israel-Meir Wohlman  in Minsk, who according to hearsay, was the author of the famous comedy, ‘Die vybershe kniplakh.’

In passing, B. Gorin makes the following observation: ‘The name of the writer is given as Y. M. Wohlman, but as it appears (?) the true composer of this piece is Ludwig Levensohn, who put Wohlman’s ....??? ‘Sambatyon’ and afterwards for another season in the London Pavilion Theatre (Director Zusman), and another short tour through Western Europe, again in Poland, where it played in 1932 in a ‘friend’s troupe’ in the Warsaw Skala Theatre, and after that, in the Warsaw Pavilion Theatre (Director Chaim Sandler).

Specialty – Character roles

L.’s daughter, Reizl Sandler, performs on the Yiddish stage.

M. E. 

Chana Sandler – ‘How did I come to the stage?’ ‘Di Post,’ London, 13 Jan. 1928, ‘Teatcht’, Warsaw, 5, 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1149.
The Museum acknowledges  the kindness of Dr. Jacob Solomon Berger, of Mahwah, NJ (USA)
who provided the English-translated version of the biographical information displayed above.


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