Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Rachel Turkow


T. was born on 10 January 1908 in Warsaw, Poland. She is the sister of Zygmunt, Jonas, Itzhak and Mark.

She learned for a short time in Krinski's pro-gymnasium, and due to illness privately passed the course of seven gymnasium classes. She graduated in 1927 from the Polish dramatic school of Hrinievietzka, and after an examination she was taken as a member into the Yiddish Artists Union [of Poland].

In a very touching chapter in his book "Wandering Stars," her brother Jonas portrays his sister, and notes that as a smallish young girl, she had a deep love for "productions," and her brothers Zygmunt and Jonas, after being students, created for her and the other children "productions" at home.

She and her other twin-sister Sarale, however, were not taken by their father to the theatre as they were, but was apparently struck by their desire to become actresses, a mendents, which had begun to manifest in her older brothers, but in the end this didn't deter her from the study of the stage arts, and she became an actress.

T. had acted in the troupes of he brothers Zygmunt and Jonas, with Ida Kaminska, Lidia Pototska and went on a long tour with Zygmunt, Yitzhak Turkow and Ida Kaminska across Eastern Galicia. Later she became sick, which had forced her to withdraw from theatre work.

Her brother Zygmunt Turkow writes:

"At that time (1928), our sister Rukhele had begun to act with us as a member of our family. She was the youngest of our family, but the oldest of our twin sisters, Rukhele and Sarahle.

Our mother suffered severely giving birth, and they were destined for a difficult life and a martyred death by kidushim. Where their holy souls expired is not known. I received the last information about them in Brazil-- a card from the Warsaw ghetto-- a laconic text about health with a saying: "We are filled with nostalgia for you." We, the living, remaining brothers, carry their bright adenk deep in our hearts, and so as we do not know their yahrzeit, we lament that we have young snowy lives one time a year."

Rukhele had attended the same dramatic school as I did, as did my brother Mark. Mark then went over to a film school and finally dedicated himself to journalism. He and the youngest, Sarahle, had extended the theatre. The others-- Jonas, Itzhak and Rukhele were going the way of our uncle 'Shrochias' (Israel-Chaim) and became actors. Rukhl began to act with Jonas, then with Lydia Pototska, and then she returned with us from Romania, and she acted with us. The difficult conditions of an itinerant theatre had not served her delicate organization. She often would get sick, which had disturbed her artistic development, and she provided us with much heartache."

T. also participated in the Yiddish films "Tkies khaf" and in "Di polisher velder (The Polish Woods)."

In the Second World War, both twin sisters barvizn two years traveled across the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, then they went away to the East and were captured by the Nazis, and were sent to the Treblinka gas chambers.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," Warsaw, 1934, Vol. II, p. 874.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Farloshene stern," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. I, pp. 32, 145, 218; Vol. II, pp. 126, 281-90.

  • Zygmunt Turkow -- "Di ibergerisene tkufh," Buenos Aires, 1961, pp. 250-51.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3806.
You can see the Lexicon's original biography for Rachel in Volume 2, page 857.

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