Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Alexander Chertov


Ch. was born in 1881 in Minsk, White Russia. 

Already at the age of eight, C. showed talent in drawing, and at age ten he made a charcoal drawing of the local rabbi.

When he was thirteen he began learning with a draftsman-painter, and four years later he received a painter’s certificate from the Minsk Guild.

A year later he left for Odessa to study at the local art school. 

In 1901 he returned to Minsk and worked for two years as a set decorator-painter at the Minsk Society for Art Amateurs, under the  stage manager Alexander Patekhin. In 1902 he participated in a Yiddish theatre production directed by Kompaneyets.

During the Russian-Japanese War he left for America, where he joined the Yiddish theatre as set decorator, first with David Kessler (1908) who played in “The Jewish Heart”, and later in the plays “Yankel the Blacksmith”, “ God of Vengeance”, “Sonin”, “My Wife’s Husband”, “Madame X”, “God, Man and Devil”, “Kreutzer Sonata”, “The Truth”, Arnstein's “Shabbetai Tzvi”, “Every Woman”, “Style”, “Mirror of Life”, “Blimele”, “The Great Miracle”[?], “What the Rabbi Wishes”, “The Merry World”, Libin’s “A Night of Love”, and "Back to His People". 


C. then painted the stage decorations for the following:

Thomashefsky’ s theatre for the plays: “The Storm of Life”, “The Polish Jew”, “The Hungarian Singer”, “Eykele mazik”, “The Jewish Crown”, “The Eternal Wanderer”, “Shma Yisroel (Hear Oh Israel”), and “The Lost Sheep”.

Adler’s troupe for the plays: “The Morons of Today”, “The World in Flames", and “The Slaves of the People”.

For Gabel's Theatre, he painted the decorations for: ” Her Great Secret”, “She Sold Herself for Money”, “A Mother’s Wedding Dress”.

Ludwig Satz’s theatre for the plays: ”The Tailor’s Daughter”, “The Rabbi’s Melody", “The Rabbi’s Health", “The Great Miracle”, “What the Rabbi Wishes”, The Merry World”, “A Wedding in the Village”, “The Stepchild of the World", and “I Miss Home”.

German's Folks Theatre for the plays: "The Pioneers" by Peretz Hirshbein, and "The Tenement House" by Kalmanowitz.

Buloff's Folk Theatre for the play: "Der urteyl (The Sentence)".

Jennie Goldstein's theatres for the plays: "The Galitzianer's Rabbi's Wife", "The Vow" by Chaim Lieberman, and "Madame Pagliacci".

Michalesko's theatre for the plays: "Tsigeyner-libe" and "Dray hertser in eyn takt".

Samuel Goldenberg's Second Avenue and National Theatre for the plays: "The Brothers Karamazov", "The Eternal Corpse", "In the Garden of Life" and "Unter eyn dakh".

Molly Picon's Theatre for the plays: "Katinka", "Der kleyner muzik".

Leon Blank for the play "A Wedding for Two".

But the majority of his decorative work was created for the "Yiddish Art Theatre", with which he was connected to since 1920, where he had produced the decorations for the plays:

  • "Oyfn opgrunt (The Lower Depths)"

  • "Amol in may" (Onced in May)"

  • "Di goldene keyt (The Gold Chain)"

  • "Shver tsu zein a yid (Hard to Be a Jew)"

  • "Myeshtshanye" (Mishshtanya)"

  • "Got, mentsh un teyvl (God, Man and Devil)"

  • "Di veytsnde blum" (The White Flower)"

  • "Der dybuk (The Dybbuk)"

  • "Der toyter mentsch (The Dead Man)"

  • "Der letster yid (The Last Jew)", by Moishe Nadir

  • "Ven shtarbt er? (When Will He Die?)"

  • "Shmates (Rags)"

  • "Broyt" (Bread)"

  • "Dembes (Oaks)"

  • "Motke ganev (Motke the Thief)"

  • "Yizkhor (Remembrance)"

  • "Moshke khazir (Moshke the Swine)"

  • "Konkurentn (Competitors)"

  • "Dos groyse gevins (The Big Win)"

  • "Shdim veysn vos (The Ghost Knows What)"

  • "Mayor noach (Major Noah)"

  • "Der revizor (The Inspector General)"

  • "Don zhuan" (Don Juan)"

  • "Der foter (The Father)"

  • "Der gedank (The Thought)"

  • "Velf (Wolves)"

  • "Der luft-mentsh (The Air Man)"

  • "Shekspir un kompany (Shakespeare and Company)"

  • "Doktor hertsl (Doctor Hertzl)"

  • "Kidush Hashem (Kiddush Hashem)"

  • "Bum un dreydl"

  • "Di kishufmakherin (The Witch/Sorceress)" by Kastilye

  • "Yoshe Kalb (Yoshe Kalb)"

  • "Di moderne kinder (The Modern Children)"

  • "Der oyfshtand (The Revolution)"

  • "Khelemer khukhim (The Wise Men of Chelm)"

  • "Di brider ashkhenazi (The Brothers Ashkenazi)"

    Shortly thereafter, T. settled in Los Angeles, where he passed away on 22 October 1961.

    Sh. E.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5174.

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.