Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joel Entin


Born in 1874 or 1875 in Pahost (Pogost), Minsk Gubernia, White Russia. Descended from rabbis and Jewish clergy. Father -- drew income from a pub and a shop. He learned in a cheder, then Hebrew and grammar in a cheder with his parent's brother Aaron, who printed stories in 1902-1903 in the "Forward". In childhood he began to read novels, and soon he went over to Hebrew literature, and also by himself then made his first literary attempt (songs and the beginning of a novel). Then he learned in Yeshmen, in the yeshiva of Blinits and Mir, and in the Pahost Beit HaMedrash. He was under the influence of Khbit-Zion and worked for that movement.

1890 -- traveled to Moscow, where he studied in Hebrew, for a certain time was a librarian in the association "Bnai Tsion", had to leave the city due to eviction(?), and he immigrated in 1891 to America to his brothers. Here he for the first time (in New York)  he was a sewer of shirts, a peddler of cigarettes, Yiddish newspapers and seller of "dime novels" throughout the Jewish workshops. Under the effect of the socialist trade union movement, E. attended the evening school for immigrants. 1896-98 -- studied as a "free listener (audit?)" in Columbia University, English literature, psychology and anthropology, and at the same time took up Russian literature and especially studied English drama.

E. was especially influenced by the Yiddish theatre and Jacob Gordin, with whom he developed an intimate acquaintance.

Around 1895-96 his literary activity began with a song for 1 May (in English), and with a translation of popular scientific and socialistic articles in "Zuntog blat" of Philip Krants's "Abend blat".

1896 -- one of the co-founders and activists of the society "Fraye yidishe folksbine", where he was secretary, lecturer, debater during their meetings, and edited under Zemach's direction "Di fraye idishe folks-bihne", where he also published his first article about theatre.

After the founding of the "Forward", he began there to print skits, translations, literary papers, and since then participated in almost all of the Yiddish periodic editions in America, especially in "Di varhayt" and then in "Der tog", where he published literature and theatrical critiques and publicities. As one of the leaders of the Poalei Zion movement in America, E. was an active worker and co-edited her organs, was one of the founders and leaders of the National Radical Yiddish School, teacher, president of the "Yiddish Teacher's Seminar", associate editor of the first Yiddish children's journal in America, was the co-initiator and activist for "People's Relief" and Yiddish congress, the spiritual leader of the "Jewish National Labor Union", and since 1923 was a member of the General Executive (Committee) of those orders.

E. yearlong directed the struggle of a better Yiddish theatre, at first through the "Fraye yidishe folks-bine", then (1902-12) through the "Progressive Dramatic Club", for which he was the director, and where they had under his influence raised an entire range of future professional Yiddish actors.

On 13 December 1907 through Jacob P. Adler, there was staged in Adler's Grand Theatre "Di shule fun lebn, a lebensbild in four acts by Y. Entin and Z. Levin".

Besides an entire series of brochures and books of various themes, E. published the following translations:

  • "Di geyster, a family drama in three acts by Henrik Ibsen,. Translated by Y. Entin. The International Library. Issued by A. M. Yevalenko, New York" [1907. Later published in other editions].

  • "Salome, a tragedy in one act by Oscar Wilde, translated by J. Entin, publisher "Progress, London, 1909, issued by M. Zusman" [the translation was previously printed in the New York "Tsayt-gayst", 11 January-8 February 1907 and, without the name of the translator, performed through Keni Lipzin].

  • "Morris meterlink". Peleas and Melizande. Yiddish by Joel Entin. Publisher: Mayzel and Co. 1911" [printed previously in "Der arbayter", N. Y., 14 February 1903-20 December 1907].

On 31 August, under the direction of Maurice Schwartz, there was announced in the Yiddish Art Theatre Yezhi (Julian) Zhulavski's "Shabtai Tsvi" in the translation of E. and M. Katz, but factually, according to Jacob Mestel and Schwartz's future declaration -- it was performed in I. I. Singer's translation.

E. also translated Schnitzler's "Libeley", "Literatur" and (together with Sh. Lipa) "Der lialke-shpiler", which was staged by a dramatic association, and he had also freely adapted Herman Heijermans' plays "Geto" and "Dos oysgeloshene likht", which was never performed, edited B. Rivkin's anonymous translation of Dymov's play "Jerusalem (performed on 15 November 1918 in the Second Avenue Theatre), had anonymously translated and written the third act for "Der groyser kamf" by Dr. Landman, which on 12 October 1917 was staged by Jacob P. Adler in his Grand Theatre and dramatically adapted many plays that Adler had performed.

In the "Tsayt-gayst" (1907-08), E. published large papers about Gerhard Hauptmann and Herman Heijermans.

In 1917 under E.'s editing, there was published in the publishing house "Der tog", a volume of Jacob Gordin's one-acters. He also edited Dr. HIllel Zolotarov's three volume "Geklibene shriftn", from which the second volume included dramas and articles about theatre.

M. E.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, pp. 780-88.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, pp. 224, 270.

  • D. B. [Sh. Yanovski] -- In theater, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 28 December 1907.

  • S. Kozakevitsh [Shneyfal] -- Di shule fun leben, "Der arbayter", N. Y., 4 January 1908.

  • Lazar Kahan -- Iberzetsungen in der yudisher literatur, "European LIterature", Warsaw, N' 32, 1910.

  • Leon Kobrin -- "Erinerungen fun a idishen dramaturg", N. Y., 1925, I, pp. 13-16, 51-58.

  • Dr. Max Weineich -- "Bilder fun der yidisher literatur-geshikhte", Vilna, 1928, p. 284.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 4950.

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