Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yechiel Goldsmith


G. was born on 18 October 1889 in Iva (Ivye), Vilna Gubernia, Polish Lithuania. His grandfather was the shokhet (ritual slaughterer) for the shtetl; his father was a businessman.

He learned in a cheder and also a little Hebrew in Russia.

On 5 January 1902 G. came to his family in America, and entered into a school. At the age of fifteen he went into a shop, where he worked for three years.

Listening at times during a concert to declamations, he lacked it in him as such, that he taught it to himself by heart and recited it at each opportunity. A member of the "Progressive Dramatic Club" he leygn him to join them. However he entered into the "Literary Dramatic Club", which also performed plays such as "Shma Yisrael", "Nebulah" and Heyerman's "Di geto (The Ghetto)", which were not for professional theatres. In 1910 he went into the "Progressive Dramatic Club", which also performed in Yiddish Hauptmann's and Zudermann's plays. The entire time that he acted with the "amateurs" of both clubs, he worked in a shop.

In 1915 G. became a member of the Yiddish Actors Union, acting then for two years with Gabel, and one year with Schwartz, being one of the first to be associated with the "Nayer idisher teater (New Yiddish Theatre)" (Schnitzer, Ben-Ami), he acted with

Schildkraut, then went back to the Yiddish Art Theatre where he acted for two years, later traveling around across Rumania and the province.

In 1924 he was co-director of the Yiddish theatre in Montreal, Canada.

In 1925 he was the director of the Hopkinson Theatre in Brownsville, together with Misha German, .

In 1926 he acted in Ben-Ami's Art Theatre.

From 1927-9 he was with the Yiddish Art Theatre, with a small break in order to act on the English stage (a comedy named "Poppa").

G. was one of the talent-filled Yiddish actors with a serious relation with better theatre.

His best roles include: "Der zeyde (the grandfather)" in "Dem shmids tekhter (The Blacksmith's Daughters)" and "Nota kbrn" in "A farvorfen vinkl (A Far-Away Corner)" by Peretz Hirshbein; "Der kbrn" in Pinski's "Der oytser (The Treasure)", "Der horbater" in Jonah Rosenfeld's "Konkurentn (Competitors)", "Der mluh" in Sholem Aleichem's "Di goldgreber (The Gold Diggers)", "Kapitan" in Evreinov's "Di shif mit tsikdim (The Ship of Saints)", "Mr. Green" in Chone Gottesfeld's "Amerikaner khasidim (American Chasidim)" and "Mendl" in Sholem Asch's "Kiddush Hashem".

On 28 July 1929, G. who had been for ill for a short time, passed away in New York and came to his eternal rest in the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance burial plot.

M. E.

  • Uriel Mazik -- Bilder-galeree fun unzere idishe shoyshpiler, "Der tog", N. Y., 20 April 1918.

  • B. Botwinik -- Yunge talanten oyf der idisher bine, "Forward", 16 November 1918.

  • Yekhiel Goldsmith -- Oykh un dos publikum, "Der tog", N. Y., 20 April 1928.

  • M. Osherowitz -- Yekhiel Goldsmith -- Der shoyshpiler in der mensh, "Forward", 3 July 1929.

  • A. Glantz -- Yekhiel Goldsmith, "Der tog", N. Y., 31 July 1929.

  • [--] -- Idishe aktyoren heren nit oyf tsu reden vegen dem yung-farshtorbenem yekhiel goldsmith, "Forward", 2 August 1929.

  • Chaim Ehrenriech -- Aktyoren un aktrises, velkhe velen dem yor felen in di nyu yorker teaters, "Forward", 11 October 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 384.

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