Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Sarah Adler
(Sarah-Sonya Levitska, Heine-Haimowitz)


A. was born in Odessa, Ukraine. Her parents were merchants.

As a child she used to dress up in her mother's clothing and copy her.

She learned in a Russian school and there there was a singer of Russian sacred songs. At the age of eight she acted in the school in Russian as "Amalia" in Schiller's "Royber (The Robbers)". Later she became deeply aroused about the possibility of becoming a singer, and the director of the art school, Marandi, gave her a free place in the school. At the same time she continued to learn privately.

While with the Yiddish actress Dayen-Katzman and with Krug, the manager of the Yiddish theatre, A. was close to becoming a Yiddish actress. Not knowing Yiddish, she was taken into Shomer's troupe as a singer of Russian songs as a divertissement, which she used to at times give to each performance.

A. traveled with Shomer's troupe to Nikolayev, where she performed for the first time as the "Shkhurs vayb" in "Treyfnyak", and after the pogroms, what was there to do, so she came back to Odessa where she was taken into the troupe of Heine-Heimowitz in which she acted with Herren and Frauen Finkel and Gelis; Zaks, Koyfman and Berger. Here she learned with the regisseur of the German stage, Gritzkopf.

 After acting for a short time the troupe toured across Russia. A. married Heine, acted for a certain time in Latvia, and traveled from there with the troupe to London, where she acted in several bad productions, to the point that she generally wanted to retire from the Yiddish stage.

Under the same conditions she also acted here in a troupe with Adler when he was on top, and after that after both troupes united, A. acted for a short time in London. A. traveled together with Heine in 1883 to America, where she performed under the management of Moshe Zilberman in Turnhalle as the prima donna for Shomer's "Di itumim (The Orphans)", later going over to the Oriental Theatre. After that she received a divorce from Heine, while also performing at the Oriental Theatre.

A. then began to act in the troupe of Finkel-Feinman-Mogulesko, and there she performed as the first actress in both dramatic and operatic repertoire. Afterwards she went over to the 8th Street Theatre, where "there could be acted a pure dramatic repertoire".

In 1886 (Jacob P.) Adler came from London, and after acting for a short time together, she married him, and from then on followed the same path as he did, going fully into dramatic repertoire.

In 1917 A. participated in the Russian production of "Kazn", and in the Ukrainian production of "Zhidovka vikhrestka".

In 1918 she toured for a year with actor Izidor Buzet across the province.

In 1919-20 she acted together with Adler, H. Buzet, and her children Frances and Stella in London, and in 1921 under Buzet's direction in London. Afterwards she came back to America and toured across the province with the Yiddish and German theatres.

Until 1926 she led small troupes across the province.

In 1926-7 A. acted for Gabel in the People's Theatre.

In 1927-8 she again toured across the province, and since then has acted only from time to time.

Her best roles were:

"Mina" in Kobrin's "Mina", "Fanya zarkhis" in Gordin's "Di emese kraft (The True Power)", "Bat sheba" in Gordin's "On a heym (Homeless)", "Di froy (the wife)" in Gordin's "Der fremder (The Foreigner)", "Beata" in Gordin's "Elisha ben abuyah", "Gitele" in Libin's "Gebrakhene hertser", "Di mame" in Markovitsh's melodrama "A mames trern", "Nora" from Ibsen, "Amalia" in Schiller's "Royber (The Robbers)", "Katisha maslova" in Tolstoy's "Tkhit hmtim", "Yelena" in Tolstoy's "Kreutzer Sonata", and "Di tsigeygerin" and "Sofya" in Tolstoy's "Lebediker mt (Living Dead)".

A.'s five children with Adler: Frances, Izzy, Julia, Stella and Luther are all connected to the stage.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. I, pp. 234, 242; Vol. II, p. 30.

  • Leon Kobrin -- "Erinerungen fun a idishen dramaturg", New York, II, pp. 115-9.

  • B. Vaynshteyn -- Erinerungen vegen idishen teater, "Forward", New York, 24 April 1927.

  • Khanan Y. Minikes -- "Di idishe bihne", New York, 1897 (M. Zeifert's "Teater-Geshikhte").

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Mayn lebens geshikhte (My Life Story)", New York, 1916, pp. 133-5, 141.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 33.

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