Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Moshe Feder


Born on 18 February1891 in Lodz, Poland. His father was an employee in a factory. He learned in a religious elementary school [cheder], a house of study [bis-hamedrash], a Chasidic shtibl [small synagogue], for three years with a Ciechanover rabbi, and renown as a good student. Privately, at the same time, he learned secular subjects.

As a child he was a choirboy in the local ("Vilker") school, and later he was taken in by a cantor in another city. At age sixteen he began to read with persistence the Hebrew Haskala literature and politically grew up among the P.P.S. [Polish Socialist Policy] and Po'alei Zion, became a member in a chorus of "Hazamir," and there he often performed as a soloist.

Moshe Feder writes:

"...We [were] a small but active group in Lodz's 'Hazamir,' and there was conducted a battle for Yiddish. There were many stormy meetings, and it was said that we should either eliminate or abolish 'Hazamir.' Their strongest card was the Yiddish theatre of that time: 'Khinke Pinke,' 'Velvel est kompot' ...the language a wild jargon ...

They will inevitably not allow on the stage of 'Hazamir' such a non-cultural language. Our struggle looked like a lost one, but here there came Julius Adler with his new repertoire: Gordin, Libin, Schiller, Octave Mirbeau. 'God, Man and Devil,' 'Broken Chains,' 'Uriel Acosta,' 'The Robbers,' 'Jean and Madelena,' and

many others, both in Yiddish and from the classical. ...It is simply not possible to write the structure, the enthusiasm between [the] Yiddish masses and progressive Yiddish intelligence, which Julius Adler had evoked, both with his playing, as with his repertoire. he became the talk of the day. His productions had transformed into flames of demonstration for Yiddish, for Yiddish culture. Hundreds of people used to wait after each production to catch a look at the great magician, who was able to evoke such enthusiasm. The street resounded with applause and cries of hurrah, when Adler appeared. From then on our situation in 'Hazamir' became better, our position became stronger, and we had, with renewed vigor, begun to sing Yiddish folksongs, play one-acters in Yiddish. The Culture Committee brought up from Warsaw Peretz, Nomberg and Asch, to hold lectures.... this was thanks to Julius Adler."

F. also participated in the dramatic section of "Hazamir" in Reisen's and Arnstein's one-acter, and in 1911 he joined the chorus of the Yiddish "Flora" Theatre (director L. Zhelazo), making his life by working with a tapetsirer, but due to his parents, he withdrew from a theatre and returned to the "amateur" stage.

In 1913 he was taken into military service. During the First World War he fled from the Front and arrived in Lublin, where he joined in Hershkovitsh's professional Yiddish troupe, in which he debuted, for the first time (in Kielce), in the title role "Bar khokhba." After playing for several years across the province, he became engaged in Lodz's Yiddish theatre (director: David Tselmayster), where he had the opportunity to play with Molly Picon, then he went there across to the dramatic theatre, under the direction of A.G. Kompaneyets, where he performed as "Meszulach" in David Herman's offering of Anski's "Dybbuk" and thereof became aggregated to the "Vilna Troupe," with whom he performed across Western Europe until, at the end of 1923, he came to America and acted there with them until 1926.

From 1926-27 he acted in Brooklyn's "Liberty" Theatre (manager Anshel Schorr); 1927-28 in the "Hopkinson" Theatre, then he returned to join the "Vilna Troupe" and played with them in the "Intimate" Theatre, and in the "America" Theatre. In 1931-32 he played in "Kessler's Second Avenue" Theatre (manager: Edelstein), and in 1932-33 in Philadelphia's "Arch Street" Theatre (manager: Anshel Schorr.)

In the later years F. for many years played with Molly Picon and Menasha Skulnik, and in the Yiddish Art Theatre with Maurice Schwartz and had excelled, both in operettas and in dramatic repertoire.

On 24 April 1931 he was taken in as a member of the Hebrew Actors' Union, from which he very often was a member in the Executive Committee.

In 1940 a "war" literally broke out in the Yiddish rechter and leftist press, due to his right to act in Yiddish theatre, because of his belonging to the leftist movement.

F. passed away in New York on 19 May 1958. He left two daughters, Sylvia and Miriam (later Mimi Sloan), known as the "Feder Sisters," who have played on the Yiddish stage. His first wife, Sabina Lezhinska, was a Yiddish actress. His second wife, Rose Zhelazo, is a known Yiddish actress.

Zalmen Zylbercweig writes:

"Moshe Feder was an excellent actor, a full-blooded actor. He was good in every role that he played. He first understood all the roles that he was to embody, and he had enough talent to bring them to life on the stage. This can be said when it was a matter of health or a sick character, about a fellow, old or very older man, about a good, soft and gentle father, or about a strong, stubborn, aggressive father. His organ was strong, whether in regard to the art of speaking or in song. He had a full baritone, and in the operetta he was very much a well-known power. He looked quite elegant on the stage and could play not only Yiddish gestures and characters, but also non-Yiddish and even of the 'high window.' Besides being an actor, he was a burned politician and did not lose any opportunity to propagandize his political ideas, and because of this he used to create enemies, but he could not stop there. He was so deeply interested in playing the theatre himself, that he did not enjoy society."

Sh.E from Zalmen Zylbercweig.

  • Tsvion -- Yidishe interesn, "Forward," N.Y., 14 Sept. 1940.

  • Jacob Glatstein -- Prost un pshut, "Morgn Frayhayt," N.Y., 15 Sept. 1940.

  • Amcha -- Tog-eyn, tog-oys, "Morgn Frayhayt," N.Y., 16 Sept. 1940.

  • R. Zaltsman -- Di natsionale ekzekutive un dos yidishe teater, "Morgn Frayhayt," N.Y., 18 Sept. 1940.

  • B. Brand -- Gay tenh zikh oys mit zay!, dort, 19 Sept. 1940.

  • [--] --- Red-beyters hobn gemakht a freym ap oyf yidishe aktor, dort, 20 Sept. 1940.

  • Z. Sher -- In der teatraler kafe iz himl un erd un komunistisher aktor, "Forward," N.Y., 20 Sept. 1940.

  • Z. Sher -- Bay a probe fun yosef rumshinsky's naye operete in folks teater, dort, 27 Sept. 1940.

  • A.B. -- Bruder-krig inem yidishn teater, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y., N' 9-10, 1940.

  • Moshe Feder -- Julius Adler -- der boyer un bagaysterer fun besern yidishn teater, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 24 Oct. 1946.






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 4966.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.