Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Israel Rothblum


Born in 1894 in Lodz, Poland, to pious parents. Father -- a small merchant. He received a traditional Jewish education. He learned in a cheder and in Yarotshinski's Talmud Torah (Ezer Glantz, father of  the poet A. Glantz-Leyeles, was one of the teachers). He began to act in theatre in the neighbors' houses with young amateurs, and the first significant role was "Papus" in Goldfaden's "Bar Kochba", in which he excelled, had decided that he should dedicate himself to the Yiddish theatre. He acted in Zalmen Zylbercweig's semi-professional troupe as "Khatshe" in Kobrin's "Yankel Boyle", later as a professional in the Grand Theatre (under the direction of M. D. Waxman).

R. became very active in the left Poalei Zion party, especially in the drama section of the "Arbeter heym", where he often performed, singing live, from the Yiddish classics and excelled as an excellent interpreter.

R. took to touring with professional troupes across the Polish province, often at the cost of hunger, brought joy to the far-away corners, until he dershlogt to Kovno, Lithuania, where he made his home. Here he acted with local troupes and with the guest stars, such as Avraham Morevsky, Menachem Rubin, Celia Adler, Misha and Lucy German et al. When he Second World War broke out and the Soviet Army took Kovno, R. became a member in the Kovno Jewish State Theatre, but soon thereafter here came the assault by the Nazis and R. went away from Kovno.


His brother, the actor Isaac Rothblum, recounts that from the news of the actor who was with him, that R. had arrived at the Lithuania-Soviet border, but they had not entered into Soviet Russia; he had a tired and hungry sleep until Vilna and he entered into the ghetto. Some days later the Soviet might opened the border, but R. already wasn't able to leave the ghetto, where he had acted in Yiddish theatre, and according to the poet Avraham Sutzkever in his book "Fun vilner geto (From the Vilna Ghetto"), the Nazis captured R. with other acters during a rehearsal of "Tuviya der milkhiger", and they took him away to the slaughter [detail about the theatre; see the book].

According to Sh. Katsherginski, R. was murdered in Estonia. According to A. Segal he was taken over to Dr. Mark Dvorzhetski [see the stand against theatre in the Vilna ghetto]; R., together with the actors Shabtai Blekher, Kremer, Dubinsky and the text writer Leyb Rozenthal, were killed in 1944 in the Klooga concentration camp.

Zalmen Zylbercweig, who had acted with R., remarked that we could soon see by his first steps on he stage, seen in him a talented future as an actor. He had in the role "Khatse" displayed a great deal of talent and Chasidic zeal, which he had probably brought from his home. And later, when Z. had visited him in Lithuania, he had from everywhere about him the best reactions as a performer

His brother, the actor Isaac Rothblum, remarked that when R. while still in his youth performed in Lodz in productions about Yiddish literature. Later, in his wanderings around Poland and Lithuania, he always was a fighter for the best Yiddish theatre, and for the read Yiddish artistic word. He was really popular in Jewish cultural life in Lithuania.

Sh. E. from his brother Isaac Rothblum.

  • A. Sutzkever -- "Fun vilner geto", Moscow, 1946, pp. 104-106.

  • Sh. Katsherginski -- "Khurbn vilne", New York, 1947, p. 230.

  • Dr. Mark Dvorzhetski -- "Yerushalayim dlita in kamf un umkum", Paris, 1948, pp. 251-52.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2253.
You can read Israel's amended biography in its memorial volume no. 5.

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