Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Pesach Burstein


Born on 15 April 1896, in Pultusk, Poland.

In 1901 his father moved to Berdyansk, where he had a store selling finished clothing. In Berdyansk Pesach finished his education in the local synagogue, then sang baritone with Cantor Bialik in the synagogue. He also performed in the beloved play "Shulamit" written by Goldfaden.

The Cantor's choirmaster Naom Podlovny encouraged him to perform at the bimah, and in 1913 Burstein founded a miniature theatre in Konstantanovka. The first performance was a failure, and as a result Burstein ended up in a difficult financial situation. His father sent him money to return home, but Pesach spent the money on travel expenses so he could play in the theatre in Poltava.

With the outbreak of the first World War, Burstein together with the lady artist Kostin, began performing in the miniature theatre of Lodz. Later they performed in Vilna and in Kovno, Lithuania. At that time, he composed some lyrics for songs for which he later composed the melodies. Some of those lyrics, like "A Klotz in a Hat", "The Small Belt", and "The Seven Daughters" were popular for a very long time.

After performing for a number of years in various miniature theatres, in 1924 Burstein was invited by Thomashefsky to come to America to perform. Burstein came to America and performed in the "Freilekhe shneiderlekh" ("Happy Tailors") in which Schildkraut played the lead role.

In 1925 Burstein performed at the Hopkinson Theatre in Brownsville (Brooklyn, ed.), in 1926 at the Liberty Theatre (also in Brownsville); later at the McKinley [Square, ed.] Theatre in the Bronx; in 1928-9 he played at the Prospect Theatre in the Bronx, and in 1929-30 he performed at Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre.

In January 1927 Burstein was accepted into the Jewish Actors Union.

Specialty: "fat" (slapstick?)  comic.

M. E.

Editor's note: This short biography that is included in the Lexicon's first volume was published in New York in 1931. Mr. Burstein had much more of an illustrious career after this volume was published, until his ultimate passing in 1986.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 156.

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