Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre




Moshe Weide


W. was born in 1895 in Warsaw, Poland. 
M. Perenson tells us:

"In Warsaw theatre circles he was known as 'The Professional Amateur.' His entire life was devoted to organizing and directing dramatic circles, especially in those circles that were influenced by the left leaning Poelei-Tzion. In this manner, over the years he managed and directed workerís groups in the 'Poelei-Tzion Workerís Home' in Warsaw (on 23 Karmelicka Street). Whatís more, for a certain time he was also involved with a dramatic circle in the left-wing Poelei-Tzion sport club 'Shtern.' From time to time he acted with this club, but he was known particularly and above all else as their director."

In "The Borochov House" Yiddish theatre was performed on Karmelicka Street for many years on Saturday evenings. W. presented plays from the best Yiddish repertoire. Some of these plays are worthy of mention: "The Village Boy," "The Mute," "The Smithyís Daughters," "Green Fields," "Yankel the Blacksmith," "God, Man and the Devil," "Ozef" by B. Nikolaiyevski, "A String of Pearls," "The Deaf Man," and "The Coal Bin" by Ch. Rosenstein.

 In 1928 he became very active organizing a union in Poland of Yiddish dramatist circles. He was joined in this undertaking by M. Weichert, David Herman, H, Glickstock, and M. Perenson."

Dr. M. Weichert wrote:

"The Poelei-Tzion Yiddish stage in Warsaw had two dramatic circles. One circle was for adults, and the second for youths. W. was involved with both groups. His involvement was whole-hearted and soulful. In addition he traveled out of Warsaw to the provinces in order to organize new circles or to direct performances."

Jonas Turkow in his book "Extinguished Stars" describes W. in this manner:

"In Poland there were people who though they werenít professional theatre people, gave support to strengthen and advertise the best Yiddish theatre. One of these stubborn types was a young Warsaw man, an outstanding activist, a businessman and member of the Poelei-Tzion Party, Moshe Weide. In Warsaw during the 1920ís, he founded a Warsaw dramatic circle that focused an interesting and sincere repertoire. W. directed the plays personally. He organized the presentations and traveled with the plays throughout the surrounding province. There he rented theatres and arranged the performances. He was not only satisfied with performing in Warsaw; he brought his group to the villages and towns around Warsaw. W.ís repertoire acting circle performed plays that had been primarily staged in the best theatres in Warsaw,"

Jonas Turkow says:

"Without a doubt his theatre undertaking was very positive. However, some traveling theatrical performers claimed that W. took the bread and butter from them, and that he looked upon these drama circles as personal gifts from God. I must add that accusations such as these were comprised of persons who pretended to care but were themselves duplicitous. These negative comments from theatrical studios and dramatic circles in Poland were significant.

The amateur groups were instrumental in the development of the best Yiddish theatre in Poland. In Warsaw alone, there were dozens of dramatic circles. However, W.ís circle under the auspices of the 'worker's evening classes' lacked idealists and obstinate people (in this Turkow includes a long line of circles all over Poland.) W., however, created an appropriate atmosphere and an environment for Yiddish theatre. The professional Yiddish theatre in Eastern Europe (prior to World War I) also made use of these dramatic circles in its objectives and in the inclusion of the masses. There is no limit to the kind of communication and solidarity that these organized groups owed to their benefactor."

W., thanks to his useful work, became very popular throughout Poland. His popularity stretched out so far that when the fans of a lighter genre in Yiddish theatre wanted to strengthen their Yiddish theatre, they performed the more serious repertoire and they called it "Weide" ...In other years he would have been called "intelligent" or "a literary actor."  ...Weide, however, did not long for honorifics."

And about his tragic end, Jonas Turkow wrote:

 "When the war broke out W. left Warsaw, traveling further east. However, he returned almost immediately to Warsaw and became very active in "self-help" as the director of a people's kitchen. He was also strongly involved in the underground movement in the Warsaw Ghetto. When I, one time, asked him why he wasnít organizing a dramatic group in the ghetto, he answered me: "Now is a time to organize other circles. Circles that will fight the Germans." In this work too he was very active. W. knew the fact that any and all activities with which he was entrusted were carried out successfully right to the end. He never lived to see the fruits of his last efforts and to the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. During the time of one of the Ghetto "Aktzias," this quiet, modest and determined W. was killed by the German murderers." 

Sh.E. from M. Perenson.

  • Jonas Turkow -- "Extinguished Stars," Buenos Aires, 1953, Vol. 2, pp. 89-92.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Warsaw," Tel Aviv, 1961, p. 218.





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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 4021.

Translation courtesy of Paul Azaroff.


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