Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Lili Feinman

Born in Chicago, America. Her parents were the Yiddish actors Dina and Sigmund Feinman. She completed high school.

Because of this fact, that her parents were continuously taken with their theatre activities, and who also often used to go on tour when she was a child, she became taken care of by a neighbor, a deserted wife, Sheine-Feige. At first when her parents met her in Philadelphia, where they tried to establish a stable Yiddish theatre, she went with them, living with them, after their season of acting, also at a farm in Rosenheim, New Jersey. She used to, together with her sister Celia (Feinman, later Adler), also travel in a van between the farms and sang Yiddish songs and collected money for charitable purposes.

When her father went to act in London and from there guest-starred across Poland and Galicia, F. traveled with her mother and sister with a cooperative troupe across the English province.

According to Celia Adler, she characterized the episode during this period:

"On the stage, in the scene in the second act [of Gordin's 'Shkhite (The Slaughter)'], Esterke finds herself -- this is my mother -- and the German Louise -- played by my little sister Lili. I said 'my little sister,' because Lili then was then barely at the age of twelve or thirteen. Lili was grown up for her age, and no darinke, God forbid.... On the tour, we had because of the economy, joined very much a limited troupe, and she had to act in the role: they said that she looked considerably like a 'person' 


[osobe, in Yiddish], a young woman, they both, my mother and Lili, were on the stage. The talk about married life, about love, with ontsuherenishn of a husband's and wife's relationship.

The German Louise knew her, that she will quickly travel home to Germany, to her "Shatz," her fiancé, that is, with whom she wanted to marry, asked her, the naive Esterke: "if she had a fiancé in Germany, is that also, Reb Tslal? Do you love him?" The German laughed on her own and said, "Oh, vi nokh? Naturally, do men love a corpulent woman? ... I am it... Oh, frau Rappoport, so far she can understand life and the world... how then can one woman as her get married?"

I stand by the curtains -- I have portrayed Sheine-Henye -- I look up as my little sister "spraven" with her role. Our "babe" Lili had in the scene so broadly done her job, with her hands on her carried watch(?), and with an entire farsheytn a zog done to her mother, to Esterke, i.e. "Ah, Frau Rappoport, vi venig zi visn fon married life." She had done it very well and had appropriately emphasized... She barely was observed giving off a laugh."

In 1912 F., already a complete actress, participated in London in the "Pavilion" Theatre (director: Joseph Kessler). Here she became acquainted with Ludwig Satz, with whom she married in 1913. They went on to Galicia where they acted together and also went on to make a film. Due to the outbreak of the first World War, they went off to London from where they were brought by Anshel Schorr into his Philadelphia "Arch Street" Theatre, where she acted for two seasons. Celia Adler recalls that in Libin's "Di groyse frage (The Big Question)," Schorr gave special roles to both of them, to play the roles of a husband and wife, because they had been contrasted: Satz played a dried up, weak Jew, who barely had the strength to speak, and F. played his wife, a mother of eight children, with her considerable, roundish figure, and this difference alone in their oyserlekhkeyt had brought to the play a lot of comical moments.

F. drew herself away from the stage and gave herself to the management of her husband's business.

According to her sister Celia Adler in her memoirs:

"....Few...knowing or having seen my sister Lili Feinman as an actress, that she had been in the span of ten years been one of the practicing soubrettes who the Yiddish theatre has possessed; has had a treasure with her grace(?), was a graceful dancer, a very fine singer, and generally possessed everything that a good soubrette should possess. Also she was a fine character actress.

During the years in which she acted in London she became very beloved by the public after her marriage to Ludwig Satz. She had a number of years of acting in Europe with him, and also in America. When Satz had, after a difficult struggle, finally won recognition here in America, he very quickly became the most popular and famous star-comic; he fuelt with Lili that she should give up the stage and devote herself to the very appreciable career of wife and mother."

F. is the Financial Secretary of the organization "Artists and Friends" and Recording Secretary of the ladies' division of the Cloak Joint Board of the Jewish Workers' Committee.

M. E. from Celia Adler

  • Celia Adler -- "Celia Adler dertseylt," New York, 1969, pp. 4, 34, 49-52, 73, 98-99, 112-115, 125, 133-136, 142, 178, 193, 208, 219, 240, 242, 274, 279-280, 309, 324, 332, 341, 343, 372-276, 384, 386, 393, 396, 403, 404, 412, 468, 512, 557, 606, 627, 641, 645.







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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5218.

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