Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Abraham Frumkin

Born on Pesach 1873 in Jerusalem. As the son of a writer and community figure for the weekly "Hkhbtslt", and in 1877, also from the first Yiddish newspaper in Eretz Yisrael, the weekly "Di rose." He learned in a cheder, with private religious teachers (melamdim), and in the Lemel school, and after graduating, in 1889 he became a teacher of Arabic in Belikind's school in Jaffe. 1891 -- went away to Constantinople and studied Turkish and law here.

P. began his journalistic activity in 1886 in his father's "Hkhbtslt." Then in "HaMelits" and "HatTsifirah." 1893 -- immigrated to London, and from there to New York, then returning to Constantinople, and traveling to London. 1895 -- debuted in Yiddish in the anarchistic organ "Der arbeter fraynd." From Number 30, 1896 he took over the editing. In 1897 he began to issue in London an anarchistic organ "Der propagandist." From 1899 until 1903 he lived in New York as a permanent contributor for the "Forward" and "Di yudishe velt," as well as for Chicago's "Hpsgh." then settled in Paris, where he was a theatre correspondent and contributor for the Peterburg "Fraynd," under the pseudonym "Aviv."

Several years later again he settled in London and also for a time lived in the province, where he took a very active part in the anarchistic organs "Der arbeter fraynd" and "Zherminal," and began to publish very many translations of the modern European and also Russian literature (Zalmen Reisen observed: "The last stories were not from originals"), also participated from time to time in the "Forward," "Haynt," et al. Here he began to issue many of his translations, among them from Hebrew, prose "Di akhte opteylung fun gihnum" and other stories.


During the First World War, F. left London and made his home in New York, where he contributed to the anarchistic weekly writing "Fraye arbeter shtime," and later in her editorial colegium, then contributed to other newspapers, especially in the "Tog" and in "Morgn zhurnal (Morning Journal)." In the last two newspapers, he wrote many articles about Yiddish theatre.

In 1940 in New York, there was issued from "A. Frumkin's Jubilee Committee", published F.'s book "In friling fun yidishn sotsializm," in which he writes his memoirs until 1898, and also gives several portraits of known anarchists.

F. passed away in New York on 29 April 1940 [and is interred in a Workmen's Circle society burial plot at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Queens, New York].

Among F.'s published translations were the following plays:

  • Anton Checkov's "Der ber," London, September 1905.

  • Anton Checkov's "Der shidukh," London, September 1905.

[Both one-acters in 1911 were published in New York by the Mayzel Publishing House.]

  • George Buchner, "Dante's Death," a tragedy in three acts, London, December 1905.

  • Henryk Ibsen, "Di shtitsen fun der gezelshaft," "Arbeyter Friend" Publishing House, London, March 1906.

  • Morris Meterlink, "Di blinde," London, 1906.

  • Morris Meterlink, "Der umgebetener gast," (l'Intruse), a drama in one act, published in "Der zherminal," London, N' 2-3, 1906, then in a separate issue, together with "Di blinde," London, 1906.

  • Stanislav Pshibishevski, "Di gest," a dramatic epilogue, published in "Der zherminal," London, N' 9, 1906.

  • Octave Mirbeau, "Gesheft in gesheft," a comedy in three acts, issued by L Fridman, London, 1908.

  • Oscar Wilde, "Salome," a tragedy in one act, issued by L. Fridman, London, 1909.

  • Henryk Ibsen, "Ven mir toyte dervakhn," issued by L. Fridman, London 1908. Republished in New York by Mayzel's Publishing House in "Henryk Ibsen's Gezamlte Verk."

  • Morris Meterlink, "Mona Vanna," a drama in three acts, Progress Publishers, London, issued by M. Zusman, London, 1909.

  • Gerhart Hauptmann, "Eynzame mentshn (Lonely People)," a drama in five acts, Progress Publishers, London, 1909. played on 14 October 1919 in the "New Yiddish Theatre" in New York.

  • Henryk Ibsen, "Di vilde ente," translated by A. Frumkin, Mayzel Publishers, New York, 1910, 149 pages.

  • Henryk Ibsen, "Yohan gabriel borkman," translated by A. Frumkin, Mayzel Publishers, New York, 1910, 120 pages.

A great part of these translations were staged by amateur and professional actors, but rarely with the name of the translator specified.

About his translations Zalmen Reisen writs:

"Although his translations cannot completely satisfy, he deserves the merit for being the first bring to Yiddish literature the modern European play writing."

Also I. Rapoport in his article about Hauptmann writes:

"'Lonely People' was published in London in A. Frumkin's translation. The translation is not good at all."

An entirely other opinion is given by the critic B. Chubinsky:

"... His achievement as a translator, for himself, did not prevent any equation for himself [?] in the history of modern Yiddish literature. Nearly sixty works, most of the prominent world writers of his time have Frumkin, with his breytgebiker hand, took the aumerzetlekhn, again to be 'untergevakesenem' Yiddish reader of the end of the nineteenth and first two decades of our century, and only works on this one, which was put out in book form. His larger and smaller translations, which remained scattered and dispersed across various newspapers and periodicals, and no one has....[hot let eth keyner nokh nit oyfgetseylt.] ...from the great Yiddish writer regardless, Frumkin's style, in this regard, is one of the few of the very best, who have in his time, outside the then Russian border, written such pure, genuine Yiddish.... in bringing into Yiddish literature the best and worthy of world literature of his time, Frumkin saw the surest way to get the Yiddish mass reader to start at a higher cultural level....Niger witnessed him: "There is still no translator, who works as much as Frumkin to enrich the Yiddish language with translations in Yiddish of the finest works of modern world literature."

  • Z. Reisen-- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. III, pp. 163-67.

  • I. Rapoport-- Gerhardt hauptman, Vokhnshrift, Warsaw, N' 45, 1932.

  • B. Chubinsky-- Kosmopolitisher iberzetser, Farvortslter yid, "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., 15 May 1960.







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 4, page 2632.

Copyright Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.