Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Moshe Surits


Born on 21 August 1888 in Dvinsk, Lettland (Latvia), to pious parents -- small industrialist. Father -- used to in his youth participate in "The Sale of Joseph plays", so that there was created a fund for a new sefer torah. He learned in a cheder and yeshiva, then completed six classes in the Dvinsk Hebrew school of "Mfitsi Haskalah".

From childhood on he manifested a desire for the theatre and participated in the children's productions of the school,

Besides this, he used to in an earlier time "act" in private dwellings with children "Captain Dreyfus", and other "plays" for a groshn or a kopek a ticket.

1903 -- sang in a chorus during an "amateur" offering of Goldfaden's "Di kishufmakherin", and not versatile he left the role, bought from a friend a role(?), and as such, exhausted, he acted afterwards constantly for five years in roles in the dramatic circle. In 1908 he was -- without the knowledge of his family -- engaged as a professional actor to Zhitomir in a troupe, where he debuted on 24 July 1908 in Polotsk, and remained there to act for a year. 1910 -- he acted with Sabsey and Bernstein. At the end of 1910 -- was taken in to military service in October (Turkestan), where he found himself in a Russian military dramatic circle of most of the time professional actors under the direction of actor Aleksandrov, and S. entered into the circle, where he acted two or three times a week in the span of the three years that he served in the military.  

1913 -- arrived in Riga and here acted on a cooperative basis in a Yiddish troupe under the auspices of Lazer Bernstein and Zhitkovsky. During the start of the World War, he became mobilized and served in Vilna's nurse's evaluation station, by which he found himself in a Russian troupe under the direction of the actor Shmilov, which moved about and behind the front in order to act. 1916 -- toured with a similar troupe on the Riga front.

1917 -- freed from military service, he returned to Riga, and there together with an actor founded a Yiddish dramatic circle that had performed until 1919.

1919-20 -- acted in the dramatic troupe of L. Sokolov in Lithuania, 1921-5 -- in Riga, province and Estonia, 1927 -- entered into the Yiddish Meutim Theatre in Riga (manager -- Eliyahu Stein and Shlomo Kutner), and since then has continued to act in Riga with various Yiddish troupes.

S. also has participated as the "father" in Mark Arnstein's "Dos eybike lid" in a film from the company "Mintus".

According to Youna Radinov, S. was taken by the Nazis on 2 November 1943 during the liquidation of the Riga ghetto and deported to Treblinka, from which he never returned.

Mashe Rolnik writes in her daily book "Ikh muz dertseyln":

During the evening call the untersharpider called out according to a list of the older people, and they named the vakhleyt (weak?) avisfirn(?) them behind the gates. They were "not work-capable". They were older than fifty, and thus had them "to over to another camp". ...the heytsers hobn gepruvt gehaltn in keslroym Surits (artist of Riga's theatre), and one of the weak had observed, and as punishment shir-nisht went away together with the elderly leyt oykh di heytsers".

Sh. E. from Youna Radinov.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre", Warsaw, 1934, Vol. II, pp. 1460-61.

  • Mashe Dolnik -- Ikh muz dertseyln, "M"F", N. Y., 13 May 1965.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3971.
You can also read the Lexicon's original biography for Moshe Surits in its second volume.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.