Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Lutsa (Yekhiel) Engelberg

Born on 24 January 1879 in Piatra Neamt, Moldavia, into a poor family. As were most of the brave, indigent Jews, he hadn't the opportunity to complete a folksshul, and when there was a friend who once knew him..., he answered him with a proposal: "Here you have, nevertheless, four classes of folksshul, give me two of them, I'll pay for you now." He didn't know how to read or write in Yiddish, he used Latin letters to write his things. He wrote in Romanian his first small book, "Zbitkes." The other small booklets, still in Yiddish, he had self-published: "Sabbath Night Kugel," "The Nine Days (1910), "Sabbath Night Table" (1910), the second edition thereof, "Ibergezen un fargresert" (1926), "Shabes hagadol" (1908-1914).

"Sabbath Night Table" contains scenes, couplets, folks witticisms and other various humoristic stories. In that endeavor the author says: "The booklets' folklore is written for big and small, that the poor, who had the right to die from hunger the entire day, also have the same right to starve from laughter."

E. used to speak in programs. He was part traveler, part musician, part actor, part joker, and part life-insurance agent, but entirely a pauper.

Julian Schwartz writes about him:

"The humorous sketches, the anecdote, made him popular and beloved early on with the small merchants and artisans of Moldavia, later over the entire country. His way of reflecting the


homely and problematic environment is primitive, sluggish, the lighter social accent of the satirical-humorous staff often loses out to cheap jokes ...'Breyne with a toothache' as a couplet used with great success by the famous actress Clara Young, Molly Picon and Sidi Tal. We find Lutsa Engelberg's near spicy couplets and cheap jokes that are really rich in committed and unmistakable verbalism. His 'messages,' mixed with vocalized words, evoke laughter not seen on their macabre content. ...the localization that he brings forth can serve dielectric research. Lutsa Engelberg's opening performance in the 'humor festival,' he by himself used the conference, reading the only sketch, anecdotes, epigram, silly fights and the z(sh)menies of a green leaf, and plays with the harmonic Yiddish and Romanian musical folklore and their own compositions, which he had alone published and alone disseminated. The more saved, with grace and folklore, were played on radio several times after the Second World War."

On 15 October 1948 E. passed away.

  • Julian Schwartz -- A yidisher vitsling in rumenye, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 4 July 1967.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 4920.

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