Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre



Yaakov Yakubovitsh

Born on 22 February 1896 in Lodz, Poland, to not well-to-do parents. He was the brother of the actor Hyman Y.

In his autobiography (written in 1928), according to that, his father was a trustee (gabai), and a bel-tefilah (prayer leader) in a small synagogue, and at home used to sing over various melodies, which he later used at the pulpit.

"Have you ever heard it, that a father should take his child and go with him to a director, or a stage director, and say 'Make my child an actor'? I think that my father had done this with my brother, and it could be that this is the only father of every Yiddish actor who had done such a thing. Why? Now I understand. My father had wanted to lead my brother in another way, that he shouldn't be mixed up in the then (1905-1906) revolutionary movement. I was a ten-year-old, and I had already begun to feel the difference between the cantorial and theatrical melodies. The two had strongly influenced me. For us at home together, my brother's friends; spoke about theatre made like and sung like the actors who they had seen. This strongly interested us. I had accepted [the idea] that when I got older, my father would take me learn how to be an actor. Meanwhile, I studied, but when my parents no longer had the means to allow me to learn, and I  began to speak about following my brother in the troupe, where he could be found, my father constantly answered: 'I only have enough for one son to be an actor. You see though his happiness' ...Even my mother was very upset and kept after me step by step, that I should not flee. However, I took myself to my friends, with the alert, and sometimes I went to work on a three


kilometer walk, returning during a big frost on a palta, which his parents had taken to keep me from walking.

A cousin of mine, Abraham Feitelovitsh, who came from Aachen, where he had graduated as a veb-mayster, we had begun to learn, and after two years I graduated and became an assistant mayster with the Y. Mayzel company in Lodz."

After playing in several productions with amateurs, L. in 1916 began to act professionally in Lodz's "Grand Theatre" (directors M.D. Waxman and Julia Zandberg), debuted as 'Sam Lerer" in Schorr's "Di amerikanerin," then traveled across the province, later in Warsaw, wandering across the Polish province, where he played main roles, such as "Yeshiva bokhur," "Der talmid khokhem," and "Uriel Acosta," and in 1918 in Warsaw in the "Venus" Theatre with his brother and sister-in-law.

In 1919 he went over to the Ukraine, which was occupied by the Germans. After his evacuation he played with a troupe in Zlotopol (under Petlura's government) for four months, but on 2 May 1919 the Petrulovtses created a pogrom there, and the entire rescued Jewish population, naturally with the actors, stayed in hiding in the cellars for many days and ate, until the Bolsheviks entered the city and sent away the troupe to Odessa, where Y. began to play in Rapel's troupe. At the end of the summer of 1919, when the Denikintsis captured the city, the troupe went away to Sevastopol, and a year later the troupe played in Feodosia (again under Vrangel's government), and here L. was arrested as a nimble [chlumrster] military deserter (although he was a Polish citizen), became condemned to hang, but in fact he succeeded in escaping on a ship to Constantinople, where he found sixty Yiddish actors, divided into twenty troupes. He joined the troupe of Yermiyahu Adler and Misha Shein, but as they played only once a week, they really had nothing to eat. After a year they dragged themselves to Constantinople, Y. arriving in July 1921 to Romania, where he played with Itsikl Glenburg-Kanapov-Segal in Bucharest, in 1922 with Molly Picon in Iasi, 1923-- he became a partner with M. Shein in a tour across Bessarabia, where he directed "Der dorfs yung," "Yankl der shmid," "Di puste kretshme," and "Motke ganev," playing the main roles. In 1924 he was busy with Lidia Potocka, moving onto the Yiddish stage and acting with her, as a partner, in a tour across Romania. In 1926, he was a partner with Dina Koenig in the operetta in Bessarabia, 1927 with Iris [?] in Czernowitz (director: Reich), and then on a tour with Dymow's "Yoshke muzikant," and as "Dr. Fregali" in Yevrienov's "Der eikr." In 1928 he was a partner with Adolph Tefner in Iasi, then on a tour with Paul Baratoff, in 1929 he was with his brother and sister-in-law Hyman and Anna Jacobowitz in Iasi, then on a tour across Transylvania, later with David Zayderman and Chana Lerner in the operetta; in 1930 with Vera Konievska and Paul Breitman in Czernowitz, where he married Jennie Zeltser and traveled with her on a tour across Bessarabia and the Romania province; in 1931 with Joseph Buloff, together with the "Vilna Troupe" in Bucharest (director, Sandow), and then on a tour. In 1932, a season with Ludwig Satz, and then a tour across Bessarabia and Transylvania. At the end of the winter with Celia Adler, as a partner, in Bucharest; 1933--Y. guest-starred in Kishinev with Lidia Potocka and Jennie Zeltser and made a tour across Bessarabia. In 1934 Y. performed for Director Reich in Czernowitz as a premier and stage director, and then with Dr. Paul Baratoff.

His further stage career is unknown.

According to the writer, Yerachmiel Briks, who found himself in the Lodz Ghetto, and from there was rescued, Y. was in the Lodz Ghetto and was killed there.

According to other news, he died in 1943 in Tashkent.

According to Julian Schwartz, his second wife Tania, committed suicide in 1942 in Tashkent.

Sh.E. and Sh. E. from Julian Schwartz and M.E. from Yerachmiel Briks.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 5, page 3806.

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