Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Berish Beckerman

B. was born in 1854 in Zamosc, Lublin Province, Poland.

His father was a fancy baker.

B. studied in a cheder and was orphaned at the age of ten. He then traveled to Warsaw, where he went to work for a fancy baker.

A few years later, he became a singer in the choir of the ‘Broder Singers,’ who had appeared in the garden of Wolf Litvak’s yard (Franczikaner Gasse 36), where the bakery was also located.

As Beckerman tells it, this ‘theatre’ was located in the second yard of the same house, in a garden. This ‘theatre' consisted of a wooden building in which there was a specially made curved gallery of boards. The scene: a straight platform on which an actor would come out with two singers, one each side of him, wile the other singers and actors would sing from behind the ‘background.’

The troupe consisted of the actors Aaron Tager (the director), Kopke Dubinskim Shmulyak, Chaimovich, Max Blumenfeld, and of the chorus singers (the late actors) Berel Bernstein, Max Goldberg, Abraham-Yitzhak Tanzman, Shliferstein, and Berish Beckerman.

A ticket cost five kopecks. Every week they put on a different program. To the extent that Beckerman can recall, on the outside wall of the ‘theatre’ there was a program hung, with the following content:

'I Am Ashamed to Say,’ sung by Aaon Tager.

‘Norkhi nafshi,’ sung by Shmuliak.

‘The Mirror and the Clock,’ sung by Chaimovich and Aaron Tager.

Oz yashir,’ sung by Max Blumenfeld.

‘I Should Only Have a Beard,’ sung by Chaimovich.

‘The Hassid and the ‘German’,’ sung by Shmuliak and Tager.

‘Four Porcelain Plates,’ ‘The Heroes of Israel,’ ‘The Three Deaf People,’ and ‘The Matches’  — played and sung by the entire troupe.

The performances were so well attended that the price of a ticket was quickly doubled. A short while thereafter, the troupe performed ‘Shmendrick’ ; later ‘The Grandmother and the Grandchild,’ ‘The Witch,’ ‘Two Kuni Lemels,’ and then they moved from Wolf Litvak’s little garden to the theatre on Muranow Platz.

Beckerman went to Gradner after the ‘Broder Singers,’ who put together a troupe (Israel and Anita Grander, Berl Bernstein, Tanzman, Shliferman, Joseph Taubers, Max Goldberg) for the province. Here, Beckerman appeared in parts under the pseudonym B. Berkovich. For family reasons, however, he left the troupe and traveled back to Zamosc, where he opened a conditorei and wrote ‘In Times Past,’ novels, stories, etc.

According to the tradition from ‘Peretz’s Pages,' Beckerman produced ‘Der yidishe spiegel,’ a collection of various outputs of Dovberish HaLevi Beckerman, Vol. I, Warsaw, 5655 (1885). The volume contains sixty-four pages, two folios of 16°, under his own name, as well as the pseudonym, Dr. Bo’ee BeShalom, The chief baker, Berkovich, and in passing, Beckerman published there his stories, poems, jokes, translations and feuilletons. A year later B. Beckerman published original collections under the name ‘Flowers to the Jewish Mirror,’ apart from which he presented ‘R’ Bezalel’keh Melamed,’ a story set in Warsaw about the current year, 1895, compiled by Dovberish HaLevi Beckerman, Warsaw 5654 (18 pages, 16°) and ‘The Happy Trousers,’ a tale about fabric, composed by Dovberish HaLevi Beckerman of Zamosc, Warsaw 5655 (1885) (twenty-three pages 16°). In Spector’s second book, ‘The House Friend,’ Beckerman also published a poem, ‘A Weekly Dream,’ and anecdotes.

On Kaminski’s initiative, who had come to Zamosc to perform with his troupe, Beckerman worked a novel of his own into a play, under the name, ‘Die frumeh merderin,' a comic-drama, which played in Warsaw for a number of years, by Kaminski’s troupe, and Kompaneyets. Because of bad business in Zamosc, Kaminski also worked it out that Beckerman should appear in his plays a number of times in his performed Goldfaden repertoire.

On September 30, 190... Beckerman’s classic operetta, ‘The Conversos of Spain,’ in four acts and five scenes, was presented under the direction of A. G. Kompaneyets at the Warsaw Muranow Theatre..

Beckerman came to America in 1914, where he was employed as a fancy baker.

On November 1, 1926, Beckerman produced the first edition of ‘The Immigrant Sentinel,’ a monthly journal, first edition, produced by B. Beckerman. The entire edition was filled with Beckerman’s own compositions. Among other items, he presented ‘Mendel and Genendel’ (in theatre form), and ‘The Divorced Bride', a life’s portrait in one act, from the Immigrant Sentinel (unfinished).

Beckerman had in manuscript form, ‘Deborah the Prophetess,’ a biblical operetta; ‘Jephthah of Gilead;’ a biblical operetta; ‘From Prison to the Throne, an historic operetta, and ‘The New God,’ an historical operetta. The one-act plays were ‘The Second Judith;’ ‘The Woman Convert,’ and the one-act comedies: ‘My First Groom,’ ‘A Bomb in the Rebbe’s Attic,’ ‘Swapped Wives,’ ‘A Diamond Ring,’ ‘Fish the Water Carrier,’ and ‘Ladies First.’






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Translated from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 195-7.
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:

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