Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


David Apotheker


Born on 28 August 1855 in Ponevezh, Kovno region, Lite (Lithuania), as the son of a prominent mashkhil in the city. At age eight he became an orphan, and due to his stepmother, he was forced to leave home. At age ten he went away to Vilkomir, where he was a student in the yeshiva of Moshe Leyb Lilienblum. At age sixteen A. went to study Hebrew, Russian and German, and wrote very much in Hebrew. In 1877 A. early on listed in on [classes at] Kiev's university, and became excited about the Revolutionary Movement. In 1879 A. was arrested as a "nihlist", and sent to be condemned, he fled and settled in Czernowitz, where he opened a bookkeeping business, and in 1881 he issued his first work under he name: "Hnbl -- di leyer -- tsehn shane folkslieder iber di vikhtigste frage der yuden, in Hebrew and Yiddish-German with very beautiful melodies". In 1886 or 1888 he immigrated to America with the goal here of founding a communist colony, and when he couldn't get one, he founded in Brooklyn a shop of women's clothing in a communist element. When the commune disbanded after three years, he opened a printing shop in Brownsville, and began to issue a humoristic-satirical paper. Then he moved over to Philadelphia, where he founded a weekly paper, founded a dramatic union, and when he moved in 1909 over to New York, he edited here "Di idishe bihne".

A. left in manuscript plays, dramas, comedies and vaudevilles:

"Di shtume kallah", "Der ger-tsadik oder graf potatski", (1889), "Der velt-troym oder di dray brider", "Der eviger yude oder der orimer milyoner", with songs and couplets (1890), "Shimson hagibor" (adapted from the German), "Tsion", "Der nihilist" (1892), "In prizon" (1895), "Yankl" (a comedy -- a troym) (1909), "Di rusishe kutshme" (1909), "Gayster" (1910), "In a shvakhn moment" (1911).

None of these plays were performed on the professional stage, only by "amateurs" at various times there were staged his plays "Der letster strayk", "Moshiach's tseytn", "Gimpels sdr", "Der anarkhist", et al.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 151-5.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 66.

  • Dr. Jacob Shatzky -- Retsenzies, "Pinkas", N. Y., 3, pp. 284-5.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 81.

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