Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Dr. Nathan Birnbaum


B. was born on 16 May 1864 in Vienna, Austria. He is descended from rabbis. As a [bn-ikhid] he was educated in Yiddish, with an admixture of education, he even learned a little Tenach, but in the German school (elementary school, gymnasium and university) and in the community of German Vienna, he lost the little Yiddishkeit (Jewishness). In 1887 he completed his juris doctorate, worked for four years with a lawyer and then be rejected thereof and to fully give himself to literature and societal activities. Yet as a gymnasium he directed national Yiddish propaganda, and after for Herzl when Zionistic nationalism came. In 1883 together with Dr. Reuben Birer and Moshe Schneider he founded the Jewish Student Union "Kadima", that performed thanks to the Jewish nation and his living in Eretz Yisrael. Since 1902 B. agitated under his own name and under the pseudonym "Matityahu Akhr" in his many articles and [bore=fartragn] for Yiddish as one of the main [isudus] of national life. In 1908 B. visited America, where he also did [referant] about Yiddish theatre. In the same year he was chairman of the Czernowitz Conference, which had proclaimed Yiddish as the national language. In 1909 B. founded in Czernowitz he "Yiddish Theatre Union" with the purpose of raising the status of the Yiddish stage. In wartime B. had crystallized a new world demonstration, which broke entirely over the contemporary attitude to the Jewish national problem and he fully returned to "the [tsu der alter yidisher amunh, tsu yidishkeyt un tsu yidishe kdushh bashtrebungen]".

 Later B. went officially over to the camp of the "Agudas Israel", for which he worked for a certain period of time as a secretary, paid and a delegate in America.

B. also had written many accounts about the Yiddish theatre and had published a play "Far di elterns zind" (zitnbild), that in 1909 was staged. Also his one-acter in German "Ikh bin salomo" is written by B. in Yiddish.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. I, pp. 280-9.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of the Jewish Theatre", Vol. II, (List of plays).

  • Moshe Shalit -- "Vegn dr. natan birnboym", "Literarishe bleter", 78.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 168.

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