Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre



Ester Lipovska
(Glazer, Volska)


Born on 14 February (Esther Taanit) in 1889 in Samara, Russia. Her father was a tailor. As a child or seven she wandered with her parents to Poland, in a town Zdunska Wola, where she learned Yiddish with her father.

As a child she worked with sacks, then in a textile factory as a spooler, later traveling over to Lodz, where she worked as a stacker, and her beautiful voice drew attention in the factory. She also participated in the "play" on Friday night, featuring one well-known worker. She also began to participate in the Purim shpiels on Purim. Finally in 1904 she joined Sh. Krause as a chorister in his troupe, with whom she traveled across Poland and Russian, until she joined the artist Lazer Zhelazo as a chorister and episode-role player, to Avraham Fiszon in his troupe and followed the wandering ways of the Yiddish actors in Russia. She participated under her maiden name (Glazer) as a chorister and actress in the troupes of Meyerson, Shvartsbard, Zhelazo, Bernstein, Zhitomirski, Sam Adler, Zandberg, Genfer, Sabsey and Kompaneyets (Warsaw Muranow Theatre), where she performed in her first large role ('Beynishl') in Thomashefsky's operetta, "Dos pintele yid"). From here she went over to the Lodz "United Troupe," under the leadership of Mittelman, where she had the opportunity, the first to create the role of "the daughter' in Yitskhok Katzenelson's "Caricatures." Later she joined the "United Troupe"  with Ester Rokhl Kaminska as the head, and participated in a tour across the main cities of the former Russia.

After he marriage to theatre director Nakhum Lipovski L. joined her husband's troupe (under the pseudonym Volska and later Lipovska), in which she played the first soubrette and prima donna roles in the operettas, and as first dramatic actor in the drama. Thus she created

here, the first, the role of "Tsirl" in Hirshbein's "A farvorfener vinkl (A Faraway Corner)," and "Norma" in Sven Lange's "Samson and Delilah" (translated by Zalmen Zylbercweig).

In 1927-28 L. played in the troupes under the direction of Rudolf Zaslavsky, and later of Kadish-Khash.

A boon of that time, Z. Zylbercweig in his essay, portrays her husband Nakhum Lipovski:

"And here I am again in Poland, and in Krakow, where his wife plays, The gospel tells me that Lipovski was seriously ill and his wife was called to Vilna. Today, tomorrow, [what does it matter?] the disaster will happen. Today I expect that, in my plans, I have to be in Vilnius again. I hastened my journey, sailed to him, found him half-paralyzed sitting in a chair. His wife serves him like a small child, for he cannot give a touch. After several weeks he suddenly returned to be paralyzed. But the paralysis made him weaker. ...Although he was forbidden to speak, he nevertheless spoke continuously. There was no sign of the former Lipovski, of the master's memory. Started talking about one end, not ending and moving on to another, and in the meantime, some words sounded incomprehensible. Suddenly his former strong voice came again, and calling for his wife, he said: 'Ester, which fara plays have I played?' The actor responded to him, and soon he took his wife by her hand and said, 'I want to be healthy, I want to go to Canada, then I also want to take you down.' His wife agreed: 'Whoever is healthy, Nakhum!.' But it felt like both were playing the theatre, both only want to comfort the other, but they don't believe their words. They know that the end is coming."

After her husband's death, L. participated in the member troupes under the direction of Potacka, Baratov and Moshe Lippman, with whom she wandered across Poland, then for several years she played in Kovno (Lita), under the direction  of Bukantz. In the last years she crossed over to the mother role type, and they put in a lot of heartiness and softness.

L. also participated in the film "Chasia the Orphan," per Jacob Gordin (role of "Chasia"), and "Der yeshiva bokhur (The Yeshiva Student)," per I. Solotorefsky (role of "Esterke"), and together with  H. Weissman, she sung Yiddish couplets in a gramophone.

L.'s son from actor Lazar Zhelazo, Simkha (Sasha) Lipovski, was a Yiddish actor, and died in the Vilna Ghetto.

L. recalls that her own child, the actress Zlatke Yaroslavska, the future wife of Yiddish theatre director Boris Bukantz.

About her tragic end, Sh. Kacerginski writes in his book, "The Destruction of Vilna":

"Ester Lipovska, well-known Yiddish operetta actress (wife of Nakhum Lipovski), in the Vilna Ghetto, felt broken. To all troubles, L. received a damaging blow due to the illness and death of her only son, the actor Simkha Lipovski. Lest there not be hunger, Lipovski played theatre. The actress then was greeted by her many friends with a great evening, dedicated to her fifty-year anniversary.

At the liquidation, L., together with her daughter-in-law, the actress Sonia Mintz, was sent way on the left side. The grandchild (granddaughter) Tzirele was saved from a German camp ."

And Jonas Turkow writes:

"She was a very hearty human being, and a good fiend. During the Nazi Occupation she was in the Vilna Ghetto after playing her beloved role of 'Mirele efros.' There she, just as most all the Yiddish actors, were killed."

  • "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 2, Warsaw, 1934, p. 1097-98.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Teater-figurn," Buenos Aires, 1936, pp. 73-80.

  • Sh. Kacerginski -- "The Destruction of Vilna," New York, 1947, p. 227.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. 1, pp. 262-68.

  • Sh. Bliacher -- "Eyn un tsvantsik un eyner," New York, 1962, pp. 85-90.





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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3815.

You can read Ester's initial "Lexicon" biography in Vol. 2.

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