Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Hela Mel [Melman]

According to Jonas Turkow, M. came from an intelligent but assimilated home in Warsaw, that became poor and therefore had to search for income, and through her friend, the actress Rose Gazel, became excited about being a chorister in a Yiddish theatre. When she learned Yiddish, she also began to receive small roles in which she did not exhibit any great talent, but as a person she was very ideal. Kerman, her husband, loved her until [he was] crazy.

The former actor Severin Zwerling tells that M. was a tall, slender person, very lovely with black, torrid eyes. When they were at times going to Lemberg through the streets and spoke Yiddish, he was blocked by his wife who dared him to say that that beautiful woman wasn't lovely, to go through the streets and speak Yiddish.

In "Farloshene shtern", Jonas Turkow writes that after the actor Pesach Kerman divorced his first wife, with whom he wasn't happy with, for the second time married a lovely Yiddish chorister who later became an actress: Hela Mel (Melman). And with her he led a happy life. During the last years of the Second World War, she acted together with various troupes. M. acted with Zygmunt Turkow in Warsaw's "Noveshtshi" Theatre in "Mkhutnim", and later in the "Yidisher natsionaler bine". When the war broke out, M. with her husband fled from Warsaw to Bialystok, and from there to Lemberg. Here they worked in the local Jewish State Theatre, but when a part of the troupe went away to guest-star in Rovno, Pesach Kremer traveled with her, but his wife continued with the other part of the Nazis. She and Fela Rotstein (the wife of Grisha Rotstein) had, during the "action" in Lemberg's ghetto resided in a chimney. The Germans had them but also found them there and dragged them to their death.

The actor Sheftl Zak tells that he had read somewhere that a Pole had observed that she had hidden together with Pepi Urich in a chimney, and had pointed out them to the Germans.

M. E. from Severin Zwerling.

Sh. E. from Sheftel Zak and from Jonas Turkow.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Farloshene shtern", Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. II, pp. 74, 83, 87.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4147.

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