ERC > LEXICON OF THE YIDDISH THEATRE  >  VOLUME 5  >  JULIUS RAKOW


Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre
BIOGRAPHIES OF THOSE WHO WERE ONCE INVOLVED IN THE Yiddish THEATRE;
aS FEATURED IN zALMEN zYLBERCWEIG'S  "lEKSIKON FUN YIDISHN TEATER"


VOLUME 5: THE KDOYSHIM (MARTYRS) EDITION, 1967, Mexico City

 

Julius (Yekhiel) Rakow
 

Born on 11 November 1890 in Lodz, Poland, to well-to-do parents -- small dealers. He learned in a yeshiva and completed Goldberg's private school in Yarotshinski's school.

Out of love for the dramatic arts, he began in 1907 to play with amateurs in Lodz, and in 1910 as a professional, with a provincial troupe. From 1913 until 1918 he played with Julius Adler and Herman Serotsky in Lodz's "Skala" Theatre, where he had small roles, grew to play in first roles, and also had the opportunity to play with Ester Rokhl Kaminska. From 1918 until 1921 he played, together with his wife, Nera, in the "Yiddish Dramatic Theatre" in Lita and Lettland; from 1921-1922 in the "Unzer Dramatic Corner" in Riga, 1927-28 in Vilna's "Folks Theatre" under the leadership of Rudolph Zaslavski, and later in other troupes across Lithuania and Poland.

R. also was stage director in itinerant troupes, and in the "Yiddish Dramatic Corner" in Riga. He also translated "Tamten" by Maskoff, "Ghetto" by Herman Heijermans, and "Daniel Denali" by Richard Foss, created scenes for "Mendel Beilis" and published in various periodical editions small scenes, translations and ployedreyen against theatre.

During the Second World War he was captured in Lodz, where he, together with his wife, and ten Yiddish theatre folk were in the ghetto, and as M. Nodelman writes, he had played there in Yiddish theatre.

 


The actor Abraham Kirschenbaum, who had been rescued from the Lodz Ghetto, tells that one of the "Jewish elders," M. Kh. Rumkowski, became the complete ruler across the ghetto, and Rakow was the manager of the kitchen of the left Po'alei Zion in the Lodz Ghetto, and there he used to arrange literary evenings. From hunger he received a cramp in the testicles, then a mkh-der-shiterung (disturbance) and passed away.

According to the actor M. Pulaver, who also survived the Lodz Ghetto, there were twelve Jewish professional theatre people, besides him, who were found there, who were directed to Auschwitz where they were killed.

Jonas Turkow writes:

"Rakow with his wife, Nera, both fine actors, were worked and killed in the Lodz Ghetto."

About his ghetto period, M. Nodelman writes:

"In the span of a short time there the police revue [politseyishe revi] [?] also showed up in the ghetto. This revue was named "police" therefore, because the ensemble consisted of the Yiddish police theatre amateurs. There the two professional actors Hershkowitz and Rakow participated. The program of the police revue was staged in the Polish language. Several numbers -- also in Yiddish. Also throughout this revue it was Rumshinsky of the Yudenrat who had the oversight. However it did not look at what the repertoire was censored by him [awk.], nevertheless an obstacle occurred that led to the liquidation of the Yiddish theatre in the ghetto.

Due to an oversight Rumshinsky passed by the stage a couplet 'Bendzshe lepie" (it will be better). The German might became aware of this 'boldness' by Jews, that it will be better, and immediately took a position on this Jewish optimism, and in the middle aisle of one of these productions, on the staircase there appeared the Lodz Kripo (criminal police) Sutener, and stopped the production with one finger. The audience and the actors were in a great panic stampeded fanatically. At the exit every attendee was shot."
 

Sh.E. and Sh.E. from M. Nodelman.

M.E. from Avraham Kirschenbaum.

  • M. Nodelman -- Yidishe aktorn fun poyln in der milkhome-tsayt, "Yidishe shriftn," Lodz, 1946, p. 104.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, Vol. II, 1953, p. 121.

  • Moshe Pulaver -- "Geven iz a geto," Tel Aviv, 1963, pp. 59-61.


 

 

 

 


 

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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4066.
 

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