Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Israel Barski

Born in Odessa. A mashkhil. Was [according to Israel Tabatsinskov] a teacher in a Talmud Torah in Yelisavetgrad, and developed a close friendship with Gordin. According to Reuben Weissman, B. was a tailor in Odessa, but always manifested a love for Yiddish theatre, and interested in Goldfaden's first productions.

He arrived in America in the beginning of the eightieth year of the nineteenth century with the first group "Em oylem", which had strove to colonize Jews, and was under the pseudonym "Israel ben-oylem" the editor of their writing organ in Yiddish under the name "Em oylem"

Among the group, who then arrived from London, one also finds Leon Golubok, who was the main power of the troupe, that Thomashefsky had assembled, and gave with her in 1882 in new York the first Yiddish production in America. In this production and also in the later productions, B. also participated.

When the "troupe" had already played the entire Goldfaden and Shomer repertoire, B. wrote for her in 1883 the play "Di vanzinige" an "Der pogrom".

When the professional actors came from Romania, and the earlier troupe disbanded, the "actors" united into a cooperative sewing shirts, and B. became foreman and bookkeeper.

Later, when Thomashefsky organized again his troupe, she went under the company name "Boris Thomashefsky and Leon Golubok and Israel Barski as Author" to Chicago, where they acted for a short time.

Arriving in Chicago B. opened in New York a shop for old clothes, participated in the socialist movement, and acted in a directing role in the movement in order  to create a general organization for the tailor workers in America. For this idea he had under the pseudonym "Israel ben oylem" agitated in a long series of articles in the 'New Yorker "Idisher folks-tsaytung'", and in old appearances during preparations and meetings until it was, together with socialist M. Perlman, successful in March 1889 in founding in New York the "Brotherhood of Tailors" (United Tailor-Brothers). In 1890 B. edited the organ "Shnayder farband" that directed an agitation to unite the tailors' unions for particular cities into a general organization that also became realized.

However when the economy turned bad in New York, B. moved over to a town in the state of Pennsylvania, where he opened a store of old clothing, and it was here that he passed away around 1900.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 226-7.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 24-6.

  • B. Gorin -- History of Yiddish Theatre", list of plays.

  • Chanan Y. Minikes -- "Di idishe bihne", New York, (Zeifert's "History of Yiddish Theatre").

  • Boris Thomashefsky -- Amolige idishe aktyoren, "Forward", 18 August 1923.

  • Ab. Cahan -- "Bleter fun mayn leben", New York, 1926, II, p. 183.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Teater-zikhrunus", Vilna, 1928, p. 70.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 130.

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