Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Edelstein


Born in December 1859 in Iasi, Romania. Father -- a bookkeeper. He learned in a cheder and completed a primary school, then he attended a gymnasium, where he cut short his studies due to anti-Semitism. Later he entered into work in his uncle's eyeglass business.

His father, who lent money to the arriving folk singers and later to the actors from Goldfaden's troupe, sat in the box office and thus came into contact with the theatre.

Yitskhak Libresko relates in his memoirs: "The entire time that we had performed in Iasi, the actors had only to do with the owners, [and] always used to count money. ...And two of the owners: Leyzer Ludner and Yosef-Yehuda Nadler, who were partners, required that we should be in the ticket office as cashiers, that the box office should have in the hand(?), and after that take the loaned money. Understand that we had an agreement, that Yosef-Yehuda Nadler had to give away to his sister's and son Yosele. That the current Joseph Edelstein, the director of Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre in New York. He received two francs a night for his cashier work".

When the troupe returned from Russia, where E. had not traveled to, put together under the auspices of Grodner, E. joined as a cashier, traveling with them for a half-a-year across Romania, then to Odessa, and after the ban on Yiddish theatre in Russia he may have returned to Romania, where he again was cashier in the Yiddish theatre.


1886 -- E. arrived in America, where he became a ticket controller, and in 1889 (together with Kessler, Feinman, Mogulesko, then only with Adler), he was manager of the Windsor Theatre, later for a certain time a manager in the Thalia Theatre, and in the span of eighteen years was manager with Adler and Thomashefsky (often only with Thomashefsky) at the People's Theatre.

When the National Theatre was built (September 1912), E. became (together with Thomashefsky, Kessler, Max R. Wilner and Adler), a partner in the National and Second Avenue Theatres, but withdrew from the partnership and again became  the manager of the People's Theatre, where he managed for five seasons with the troupe in its lease.

1919 -- E. returned to become the manager of the Second Avenue Theatre until the 1931-32 season. In the 1921-30(?) seasons he was partners with Joseph Rumshinsky, Jacob Kalich, Molly Picon, Willy Pasternak, Nathan Parnes and Max Seger, and one season with Maurice Schwartz.

1896 -- He traveled to Bucharest, and from there brought to America the actress Berta Kalich, and from Lemberg the actor Karl Shramek.

E. is married to the actress Pauline Finkelstein, who during the last years has withdrawn from the stage. E.'s brother-in-law was the actor Sigmund Mogulesko. His son, Isidor, is married to the actress Annie Thomashefsky.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of the Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 133, 146.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Mayn lebens geshikhte", pp. 115, 221, 238, 240, 252.

  • Berta Kalich [memoirs] -- "Der tog", N. Y., 8, 12, 15 August 1925.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- Unzere idishe teater farvalters, "Der tog", N. Y., 13 November 1925.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Hintern forhang", Vilna 1928, p. 82.

  • Leon Blank [memoirs about Mogulesko] -- "Forward", N. Y., 22 December 1928,

  • Chaim Ehrenreich -- Rkhilus un plotkes hoben gefihrt tsum itstigen skhsukh in'm sekond av. teater, "Forward", N. Y., 14 May 1930.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1548.

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