At the end of 1899 W. was
arrested at Vilna's terminal with a transport of illegal
literature. IN the beginning of the summer of 1900 he
was freed under police supervision. He began to take
(under a foreign name "Waiter") an intense participation
in Workers' Movement, became a member in Vilna's "Bund"
committee, participated in illegal organs, arranged
Yiddish productions for others (such as An-ski's "Di
malkhome farn lebn", Hauptmann's "Di veber (The
Weaver)", and attempted by himself to translate from
At the end of January 1901
he was arrested again, W. sat for a year in Moscow's
Butyrka prison, and in 19012 was sent administratively
for two years to Siberia, where he for a certain time
was employed by the railroad in Tomsk and wrote in the
Siberian Russian press, later spending time in
Zakopane, Berlin and Switzerland, and after the events
of 9 January 1905 he came to Vilna, where he once again
threw himself into revolutionary work. Under the
pseudonym N. Anin then he became a constant contributor
to the Russian newspaper "Severo-zapadnoye slovo". After
the failure of the revolution, W. gradually withdrew
from organizational work and began to take up
literature, performing for the first time under the
pseudonym A. Waiter with a novella "In veg" ("Folks-tsaytung",
10/23 November 1906). In Minsk, where he lived,
(illegally under the name "Rubeen Gurevich"), W.
contributed to the local Russian press, and in 1907,
together with Sarah Reyzen and Mendel Elkin he
translated Max Halbe's drama "Der shtrom", and by
himself performed in the role of "Herman".
Returning to Vilna, W.
published his first play "Fartog, a dramatic poem in
four acts, in vayzn ferz" (publishing house "Di velt",
1907, 68 pp., 2nd improved edition [improved a series of
directions from Sh. Niger] -- 1911; 3rd edition --
publisher B. Kletzkin, 1922).
The drama (under the
supervision of Polish poet Wispianski) expressed in a
symbolic form the moods of the Jewish intelligentsia on
the eve of the Russian Revolution.
The drama was never
W. also was a co-founder of
the "Yiddish Musical Vocal-Dramatic Society" in Vilna,
which performed a significant cultural role in Vilna
until the World War. From this "FADA" was descended [the
At the beginning of 1908 W.,
together with Sh. Niger and Sh. Gorelik, founded the
journal "LIterarishe monatshriften" (four volumes),
where he also published an article about Yiddish theatre
(reprinted in his handwriting, pp. 120-8).
After the downfall of the "Literarishe
monatshriften", W. began took to the theatre: to create
a Yiddish artistic theatre, which would become his
life's work. In the field work, he, together with M.
Elkin and came even in Bobruisk, where he continued with
Later W. traveled to
Peterburg, where he worked at "Der fraynd" and wrote at
that time "In feyer, a drama in three acts" (publisher
"Di velt", 1910, 80 pp., 2nd edition -- publisher B. A.
Kletzkin, 1920). The drama in March 1920 was staged in
Vilna by the studio with the Theatre Society, and it
portrayed the destruction of the Jewish family, the loss
and loneliness of the new generation, which missed
entirely the constructive Yiddishkeyt.
In 1919 the play was
published in Munich in the German translation of
Alexander Eliasberg in his collection "Yidishes teater".
(Second volume, pp. 247-315).
In 1910 W. became a member
of the editorial board of "Der fraynd" in Warsaw.
Dr. Mukdoni wrote about it
in his "memoirs" ("Archive", 1930): "In the editorial
board there was a deep interest in the theatre question
and to him had a firm and clear attitude -- A. Waiter".
On 22 January 1910 W.
participated in Warsaw's "Filharmonia" and sympathized
(Dr. Mukdoni, Nomberg, Peretz) about Yiddish theatre.
In the mission of the
society for a serous artistic Yiddish theatre, which was
founded in Warsaw (1911) with I. L. Peretz at its head,
W. visited a series of cities of West-Central and South
Russia, propagandized the idea of the theatre and sold
stock for the society. The idea however was not
realized. W. tried after to organize a serious Yiddish
troupe with Elkin, Ben-Ami and Neomi at the head,
associating with Belyaev, also with the Jewish-Russian
actor Dalmatov, but not one of the plans was successful.
In 1912 B. published in
Kletzkin's publishing house W.'s play "Der shtumer" in
four acts (84 pp., 16°), second edition -- 1920).
In the play, which very
often was performed on the Yiddish stage, W. pressed out
the mood answers (?) of the Jewish intelligentsia, which
were alienated from Yiddishkeyt.
No longer being able to
transfer the illegal und-life, W. went over
voluntarily into the hands of the gendarmerie, and in
the summer of 1912 he was sent for three years to the
Turukhansk region of White Siberia. Later he received a
license to remain in Krasnoyarsk, where -- due to
material need -- he worked with "Sibeirskaya zhizn".
At the end of March 1917 he
returned to Peterburg, wherein he, after the October
Revolution in Nizhny Novgorod, Minsk, Bobruisk, and at
the end of 1918 in Vilna, where he founded together with
Sh. Niger the weekly "Di vokh" (published four volumes).
Here he published his one-acter "An umglik" (reprinted
in his own handwriting). In the subsequent monthly
journal "Di naye velt", W. published a theatre article
[reprinted in his handwriting].
When the Polish army took
Vilna, several legionnaires broke into the house
where W. was living, took him into the street and shot
him on 21 April 1919. His naked body hot zikh
gevalgert two days in the street gutter.
The tragic death of W.
evoked sorrow in the entire Yiddish world. In all the
great Jewish centers there was arranged evenings of
On W.'s tomb in Vilna's
cemetery there stands a memorial, and in memoriam there
is the "Waiter Fund for the Union of Yiddish Literature
and Journalism in Vilna". , issued under the direction
of Sh. Niger and Z. Reyzen a collection under the title
"Waiter's Book" (1920, 320 pp., 16°), where there is
almost a series of articles about W.'s life and
creations, and a large work of Dr. Michael Weichert
"Waiter der dramatiker", and there was also published a
series of letters from W. to his friend M. Elkin.
In 1923 in Kletzkin's
publishing house, there was published W.'s "Khkhbim" (CLXV
+ 160, 16°), in which there was included Noshmidt's a
detailed biography of W., the one-acter "An umglik", and
a short list of W.'s works.
Nachman Mayzel in "Di
yidishe velt" (Warsaw, 8, 1927) published four letters
Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon
of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 929-38.
A. Waiter -- "khkhbim",
Michael Weichert -- "Teater
un drame", Vol. I, pp. 101-6.
Nachman Maysel --
Briv fun a. vayter, "Di yidishe velt", Warsaw, VIII,
Sh. Niger -- A.
vayter, "Tog", N. Y., 1 May 1929.
Avraham Reyzen -- "Epizodn
fun mayn lebn", Vilna, 1929, Vol. I, pp. 146-156,
Dr. A. Mukdoni --
Zikhrunus un a yidishn teater-kritiker, "Archive",
Vilna, 1930, pp. 372-86, 397-410.