Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Dr. Benedict Benzion

Born in 1839 in Hornistopol (Gornostaypol), Kiev Gubernia, Ukraine. Spent several years in Romania, then traveled to Berlin, where he in 1863 geshmdt, and in 1867 graduated as a doctor in Wurtzburg's university. Then B. traveled to England, where he was associated with the British society for spreading Christianity among Jews, who sent him in 1874 to Romania, and in 1876 to Odessa, where he was active as a missionary and doctor. In 1886 B. settled in Constantinople, and then he went to America, where he remained until his death.

Besides his missionary activities, which had mainly been expressed by his literary work, B. also wrote for Yiddish theatre.

Accordint to B. Gorin, they had still in 1881 [?] staged in New York B.'s play "Esther of Ein Gedi, or Der falsher khasun gdul". (after a similar play by Silvia Felika), and in 1882 [?], B.'s plays: "A familien drame", or "Di falshe kidushin", "Der groyser sukh", "Der tsbuek" (the name of the author is falsel given as the actor Moshe Zilbermans), "Dos eyferzikhtike por folk" (translated from the German), "Di umtsufridene gliklekhe", and "Di khlutsh". In 1889 there was staged B.'s play "er griner shuster", or "Der seylor in gefar".

Leon Blank recalls in his memoirs that in 1884 Kessler had staged B.'s dramatization [translation] of "Zhidovka".

Boris Thomashefsky recalls that B. had sold him two plays: "Di getoyfte tokhter" and "Farvorfene kinder", which were until today not staged.

Reuben Weissman, a personal friend of B., recalls that B. may have not composed more than two plays. In a book, which B. had gifted to W., he had written an inscription, also wrote the following words in Yiddish:

"The former Hornistopolier rabbis, the former shemash's son.  Now in New York becoming the world [?]. Doctor Benedict (Baruch) Benzion.

M. E. from Boris Thomashefsky and Reuben Weissman.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 326-7.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, (List of Plays).

  • Jacob P. Adler -- Barihmte idishe theater-figuren in dem rusland fun amolige yohren, "Di varhayt", N. Y., 1 February 1919.

  • Jacob P. Adler -- "Mayn leben", "Di naye varhayt", N. Y., 13 April 1925.

  • Leon Blank -- Dovid kesler iz zikh nukm in a shlekhter piese, "Forward", 23 October 1928.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 187.

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