Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Bina Abramovich

Born on Simchas Torah, 30 Oct 1865, in Saratov Russia. Her father was a cantonist soldier who served under forced impression dictated by the ukase of Czar Nicholas I, and he was a tailor. Her parents had taken up residence in Nikolayev, but in the meantime, expulsion of the Jews took place, which was applicable even to cantonist soldiers who were normally exempt from such overtly anti-Semitic provisions. One Jew, who was engaged in the construction of seagoing vessels, had permission to retain Jews as workers, and after A.’s birth, her parents for whom she was the youngest child, went back to Nikolayev. It is here that her father died, and she was reared by her grandmother. However, even beginning in her earliest youth, she had manifested a spirit for the theatre. Her grandfather would often visit the wine cellars, and take her along, holding her on his lap.

At the age of ten she went off to a village, to her mother, who had grown lonesome for her; she was there for four years. She got fed up with the village, and traveled to Odessa in order to become independent. This didn't work out for her, and she ended up being supported by her sisters who were located there, from a little bit of support that she was sent from the village. She wanted to learn a trade, but everywhere, a female apprentice was desired only if she would work for three years without pay, and this deterred her from making such a decision.

 She had previously seen theatre. Her older sister Liza, together with Heyna and his wife Sara, performed for Berger. When they would come once in a while to Odessa, her sister would take her along to the theatre. A. became so inspired by the theatre, that she didn’t sleep for nights afterwards, and she could only dream of the ‘angel-actors.’

In looking for something to do, a friend of hers who was acquainted with a [doorman=tir-shteyer], conveyed to her that in the Yiddish theatre (Mariinsky), they were looking for a chorus singer. The doorman brought A. to Mogulesko. He gave her an audition, listening to her tiny, old voice, and he took her into his troupe with the proviso that she perform for one month without pay. It turned out to have become four months without pay, because they always looked for some excuse to avoid having to pay her any money.

At this point, Naftali Goldfaden arrived and persuaded her to join his troupe, where she obtained roles, and he paid her a salary. Her material circumstances became very bad, due to the fact that she had become an actress [and] they stopped sending her support from home. A. therefore accepted Naftali Goldfaden’s proposal. The first role she received' was as "the mother" in "Shmendrik", but she had no lines to speak because the mother was a mute. However, her serious interpretation of the role attracted attention, and from her earliest youth she began to play maternal roles.

In traveling all over Bessarabia with this troupe, she made the acquaintance of the actor Max Abramovich, and they were married. At this point, a prohibition against Yiddish theatre had broken out, and A. traveled around with her husband in concerts. After performing in Bukovina, they arrive in Rumania where the renown troupe is performing, and then Mogulesko in 1866 wanted to take her to America, and she went along to America. Here she performed together with Abramovich in a variety of troupes, and after his death, she married the actor Kalmen Juvelier. Throughout the ten-year period of performing in the pure, serious repertoire of the Yiddish Art Theatre, she developed an exceptional popularity for herself, as well as affection, such that she is characterized in the critical press as "The Mother of the Yiddish Theatre."

M. E.

  • B. Gorin – ‘History of the Yiddish Theatre’, Vol. II, pp. 35, 199.

  • Leon Kobrin – ‘Erunerrungen fun a dramaturg’ ,II, pp. 72-73.

  • Aba Lilien – Bina Abramovich, the Treasure of the Yiddish Stage, ‘Ta”kl", 11, 1922.

  • Bina Abramovich – My Best Role – ‘Rachel Leah’ “Morning Journal",  31 March 1922.

  • Alter Epstein – One of the Four Million , ‘Tag’, New York, 18 Oct. 1925.

  • Mark Schweid – Bina Abramovich, ‘Kultur’, Chicago, 10, 1925

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni – ‘Theatre,’ New York, 1927, pp. 120-122

  • Bina Abramovich – The Public and I, ‘Tag’ New York, 23 Dec. 1927.

  • Jacob Mestel – Sic Bullet Points, ‘Yiddish Theater,’ Warsaw, 1927. p. 194.

  • M. Osherowitz – ‘What Madame Abramovich Has Accomplished in the Yiddish Theatre’, ‘Forward’, 18 Nov. 1920.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 4.
The Museum acknowledge the kindness of Dr. Jacob Solomon Berger, of Mahwah, NJ (USA) the English-translated version presented here.
The biographical material about Berish Beckerman is excerpted from a larger translation of 'Pinkas Zamosc,' a Holocaust Memorial Book,
originally written in Yiddish, and published in Buenos Aires in 1962. It was completely translated into English by Dr. Berger and published in 2004.
Copies of this English translation may be accessed in most major libraries of the English-speaking world.
Anyone interested in this work may contact Dr. Berger at:

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.