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  ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  SHLOMO HERSHKOVITSH


 

Shlomo Hershkovitsh

Born in 1885 in a small town into a well-to-do family. He was raised in Lodz, where he completed two classes in a folkshul, sang in the chorus of the "German Synagogue," and in the children's chorus of various Yiddish troupes.

He came into contact with the theatre, which aroused in H. a love for the stage. Together with school youths directed in the "Berlin Hall" in Lodz the operetta, "Shualmis," in which he played the title role.

In 1905 H. participated in the amateur offering of Pinski's "The Family Zvi" in Lodz's "Grand Theatre." Here he was noticed by the stage director and actor M.Kh. Titelman, who took him into his wandering troupe across Russia, where h. debuted as "Shlomo the Clock Maker" in Chirkov's "Jews." After playing for half-a-year in that troupe, H. came back to Lodz and played for a few years as a comic in the "Grand Theatre" (director Yitskhok Zandberg). Then H. went on a tour across Europe, and since the First World War he directed with several troupes across the Polish province.

The actor Moshe Pulaver, who appeared to survive the Lodz Ghetto, writes in his book "Geven iz a geto (There Was a Ghetto)," that on 11 May 1940, when the Germans created the Lodz Ghetto, there was found in the ghetto twelve professional Yiddish theatre people, among them H., with his family and the actors "Reichenberg and Hershkovitsh who from time to time caught a play. They worked with the "shikses (non-Jews)," who gave out

 


potatoes for the Lodz ghetto dwellers. The leader had arranged, from time to time, a production, and both actors may have been a living actively a little, because they didn't have to live life for it."

According to the actor Abraham Kirschenbaum, who also was in the Lodz Ghetto and survived, before Rumkowski ("The Oldest of the Jewish Council of Elders") became the complete shell in the Lodz ghetto, H. was the manager of the meat area in the ghetto, and did his own large favors, literally entertained in his life.

H. and his wife, the actress Regina Lashkovska, as well as their son Israel, were killed by the Nazis. His daughter, Zisl, survived in the Land of Israel.

According to his daughter Zisl Vinik:

"My parents returned from a tour with Jennie Lavitz to Lodz. When the Germans occupied Lodz, the actors asked them if they should go away to Russia. My father made himself up like a Pollack. As a result, he could more easily obtain bread to buy and still managed to save himself from the Germans. Their mother, born in Russia, had a Russian passport, and for a long time they were not touched. Their father had a large Yiddish theatre library, from which he partly attracted his vigor. We lived at Srodmiejska 61. It was winter, and not having anything to do with it, the father was forced to leave the heat on the night of the plays. He used to sing the music of the night, cry and then burn.

In the ghetto we got a non-frills apartment, thanks to the former Vilna Yiddish theatre director Boruch Ass, who had managed apartment sharing. Together with David Beigelman, the father became supervisor in a bakery, then shared potatoes on a plot of land.

Pulaver's information, that the father had 'made theatre,' doesn't agree. On the contrary, he was getting ready to play Anski's 'Dybbuk,' which was not allowed. He refused to agree on theatrical performances because he did not want anyone to 'throw' him into the spirit of repertoire. Initially in 1943, when there was an epidemic of 'amateurs' in the 'shops' and restaurants, he had, together with Nathan Reichenberg, to put on and act in a revue. The first production very much took off. the Jewish Council with 'the eldest Jew,' Rumkowski, came. the father performed in his own monologue, in which he characterized a 'Zander policeman' with a long hand, like a wink on a Chabadnik. Because of this Rumkowski wanted the father to be in charge of the theatre. An official who was, by the way, a certain Shenitsky, when the last became angry with his father, told him to be the director of the Zander Police, who was called to remove the father from the stage in the middle of the play.

Until the liquidation of the ghetto, my parents, together with their two children, tried to endure. In August 1944 the mother was taken. The father did not appear to say goodbye to her, but he did say yes to me with the words, 'My child, we will no longer see each other.'

My brother Israel, at the age of seventeen, was killed.

In the ghetto my father had a big dream: To eat a whole loaf of bread sometimes, with a loaf of bread in your hand.

As I had later heard, he was later asked to work in a crematorium, and he refused. In addition, the German officer received a slap from him, and he shot my father to death. This was in Auschwitz. His murderer was later convicted in Katowice."
 

M.E. from his daughter Zisl Vinik, and Abraham Kirschenbaum.

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 1, New York, 1931, p. 638.

  • Moshe Pulaver -- "There Was a Ghetto," Tel Aviv, 1963, pp. 59-60.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4060.

You can read Shlomo's initial "Lexicon" biography in it's Volume 1.
 

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