Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Khayele Ash


Born in 1920 in Kishinev, Bessarabia. Parents -- Avraham and Polia -- Yiddish actors ["Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre", pp. 3828-3830, 4972].

As a small child, she was kept in a basket of theatre props behind the curtains of the Yiddish theatre where her parents were performing.

Already at age two she was taken onto the stage in a children's role without words. Under grown, she followed the wandering ways of her parents with various troupes across Bessarabia and Romania, and at age six acted in several roles as "Shlomele" in Peretz's "Shvester", and in Sholem Asch's "Kiddush Hashem".

From age twelve until nineteen she served the theatre in two fields: acting in youthful roles in the operetta and drama, and prompting in the large Yiddish troupes that had migrated across Czechoslovakia and Austria.

In 1940 A. entered into a Jewish state theatre in Bessarabia. In 1941 she was recommended to study directing in the Moscow state studio of Shlomo Michoels, but at that time the Nazi invasion came in Soviet Russia, which disturbed her plans. She was evacuated to Middle Asia, where she lived across the state, and in 1945 she came to Poland and acted there in the newly formed freed cities after the Holocaust. In 1947 she acted in a Yiddish theatre in a D. P. camp in Linz, and from there she traveled to the land of Israel, where  she acted as a star for eight years in Yiddish theatre, then she guest-starred in London.

In 1961 she guest-starred in South Africa and arrived in America, where she settled with her husband Ari Furman in Philadelphia. Here she organized with her husband and brother-in-law Avraham a small arts troupe and penetrated with the Yiddish word in the American-Yiddish circles, where they often performed with productions and concerts in Yiddish in several kroyzs, where they had earlier resigned and did not dare to bring in the sound of Yiddish. The group also traveled around, across various American cities, where she was invited by the community centers of Yiddish cultural groups and often also entirely from the "B'nai B'rith" lodges.

A. also managed and directed a Yiddish children's theatre in Philadelphia.

A. is an active member in the Publishing Committee of the "Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre".

A. in 1962 was with her husband a co-founder of the semi-professional "Philadelphia Yiddish Folksbiene" with whom she staged several times Leon Kobrin's "Dem doktors vayber", and in 1963 she gave several small arts programs in Philadelphia and its environs, and with the organization of "Di naye yidishe amerikaner", Goldfaden's "Di kishuf-makherin" (1962), in 1963 -- the small arts program "Der kukh fun a yidishn nigun" and "Mir zaynen do". In 1964 -- "In kelershtub" by I. L. Peretz, "A khasene in shtetl" (a montage of folkstimlekhe geshtoltn) and motif, in 1965 -- "Di velt fun sholem-aleichem" (scenes from "Tuviya"), in 1966 -- "Der get" by Sholem Aleichem, and 1967 -- the small arts program "Shmikhos bay yidn".

In 1965 A. staged with the drama group of the Chaim Weitzman Lodge of "B'nai B'rith" an adaptation of Goldfaden's "Di kishuf-makherin".

A. had with the "Yungtlekher" theatre studio, for the "Jewish Cultural Organization" in Philadelphia in the 1966-67 season stage the adaptation of Sholem Aleichem's "Motl peysi dem khazanes". And in the 1967-68 season -- in her adaptation of Peretz Hirshbein's "Griner felder (Green Fields)".

A. and her husband also performed five times in the years 1965-67 on television channel 29, sponsored by the Board of Rabbis.

A. also performed with lectures about the history of Yiddish theatre, with musical illustrations, and about Mendele, Peretz, Avraham Reyzen, Gerbertik and Jewish humor.

Sh. E.

  • "Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. 5, Mexico, 1967, [section "Unzere boyer", pp. 10-11].






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5963.

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