Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Boris Abramov


Born in Akkerman, Bessarabia, to not-well-off parents. Father -- a printer and a bookbinder. The children: five sons and two daughters, who learned a lot from their books that their father had bound. In the beginning of this century, when Yiddish theatre was forbidden in Bessarabia, his father used to organize productions in his barn for the Yiddish actors who were passing through, and the children used to distribute small posters among the Jewish population. A.'s task was to take out the chain and the horse from the barn, add a bench and make the "stage". One of those troupes was made up of the actors: Nathanson, Ribalski, Medvyedova, Lager and his sister Emma, later the wife of Sabsey.

In 1919 A. went away to Odessa and entered into the troupe of Sabsey and changed his name to "Abramov." He traveled with the troupe across Russia, Poland, Galicia and Romania. Then he went over in to the troupes of Genfer, Zhitomirski, Kompaneyets, Rappel, Kaminski, Zandberg and finally to Lodz's "Skala" Theatre (the Adler-Serotsky troupe.)

Soon after the First World War, A. traveled with a troupe to Siberia, and when the Bolshevik Revolution came, he went over to Zhitomirski's troupe, went back to Odessa (going to the bottom of the station (?) the Czarist family that went away to Tobolsk, Siberia), and then to Kiev, where there was founded the large Yiddish Artists Union, and A. was instrumental in bringing to the meetings the zeyden Mendele Mokher Sefarim. Here he got to know and marry Miriam Einhorn, and when the union


formed several troupes, A. became assistant regisseur in the troupe under the direction of Samberg in Kremenchug (Weissman, Rubin, Brandesko, Appelbaum, Poldubny). From there he went over to the Harlamp-Kanievski troupe in Poltava (among the members were Vera Kanievska, Paul Breitman and Millie Kanievska). Due to the invasion of the Ukraine from which the Yiddish theatre had naturally suffered greatly, A. traveled to Minsk, Vilna and Odessa (to the troupe of Rappel with the guest-starring Clara Young), and then was in the first Yiddish artists theatre (Misha Fiszon, Vera Zaslavska, Segalesko, the Fenigstein brothers and regisseur Yehoshua Bertanov). When the anxiety reached Odessa, the theatre closed, and A. went with the troupe to the Crimea, where the anxiety had also reached, and A. had to go away to Constantinople, where he was forced to act outside the Galata quarter, the center of white slavery, and to villages with his wife. Also with the help of other members of the troupe, he became a newspaper seller. From there he wandered to Bulgaria, then to Romania (Director Goldenburg), Hungary, Germany, where he settled in Frankfurt-au-Main, and after the birth and death of a child, he further migrated to Switzerland, France, Belgium and settled in Brussels, where he went, together with Joseph Kessler and Nathan Blumenthal, with three theatres across England, France and Belgium, where they also brought the guest-stars Stella Adler, Samuel Goldenburg, Julius Adler et al. In 1928 the "Moscow Jewish State Theatre"  was brought to Belgium (among those in the troupe: Mikhoels, Zuskin and regisseur Granovskiy), A.'s Yiddish troupe from Belgium became engaged in the time by Henry Berman and the Shlezinger Theatre Society to South Africa, and thanks to the ninety performances of "Bar Mitzvah" sold-out houses, remained in the troupe after a season. A. traveled across Africa with Yiddish evenings, thanks to the arrangements of the Hebrew poet Morris Hoffman, and settled at the end in Johannesburg, where he suffered from hunger and poverty, and he took to commerce and had success, delivering, only from time to time, Yiddish guest-stars, such as Max Perlman. A. became general director of the Hebrew-English journal "Brkay" (editor Jacob Rubin), and although in business withdrew from Yiddish theatre, and he further maintained his connection with the Yiddish theatre world through his great hospitality for guests, such as Jacob Kalich, Molly Picon, Abe Ellstein, Misha Ellman, Jan Rubini, Jan Pierce et al. He also helped organize the seventy-year evening banquet for Yiddish actress Sara Silvia.

In 1964 and 1967 A., together with his wife, visited America and renewed his closeness with the Yiddish theatre world.

On 25 October 1967, finding himself in New York during a visit, A. there suddenly passed away, and his body was brought to Los Angeles, where he was brought to his eternal rest.

Rabbi Yermiyahu Aloy of Johannesburg characterized him as such:

"The deceased Boris Abramov was an important member of our Kehillah. His sudden death has evoked from everyone a great sorrow. He was valued, and geakht in our city as a beloved, pleasant and a good-hearted man, a great benefactor and bel drkh-arts and had always manifested a great respect and love for his fellow Jews".

M. E. and Sh. E. from Oscar Ostroff.

  • Y. Shmulevitsh -- A grus fun di iden in zid-afrike, "Forward," N. Y., 23 November 1964.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5050.

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