R. was born on 24 July 1885
in Vitebsk, White Russia. His parents were clothing
merchants. He learned in cheders and later privately. At
the age of fourteen he became employed in a
manufacturing business, where he worked for about five
years. Being an active member of the "Bund," R., during
an initial melee was arrested and put under police
supervision. Because of this he fled to America, where
he occupied himself by getting newspapers to
subscribers, and then he became a life-insurance agent.
Out of love for the stage he
joined Joel Entin's "Progressive Dramatic Club," where
he would perform as a declaimer (reciter).
In 1906 he returned to
Russia and was very active there, such that Dr.
Zhitlovsky should choose him as a Duma deputy. In order
to have the means to make money for the local elections,
he arranged several productions, and R. performed then
as "Moshe Magid" in Pinski's "Family Zvi," under Sholem
Soon thereafter he returned
to America where he married the actress Pauline Hoffman
(see "Lexicon," pp. 584-85). And through this he became
excited about Yiddish theatre, although his first
association with professional Yiddish theatre began
initially in 1916, when he became cashier for Max Gabel
in the Lipzin Theatre, where he worked until 1920. In
1921 he took the lease for the Liberty Theatre (Brooklyn
-- ed.), where he arranged for Clara Young to perform
there. In 1922 he became manager of Gabel's [Mount]
Morris Theatre. In 1923 he again traveled back to Russia
and brought to America, in partnership with Boris
Thomashefsky, the Vilna Troupe.