Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Jacob Gordin

Born on 1 May 1853 in Mirgorod, Poltava Gubernia, Ukraine, into a prominent, well-to-do family. His father Yekhiel Mikhal HaLevi, a merchant, was half-maskil [scholar; enlightened man] and half-chabadnik [Orthodox, Chasidic], and he raised his son in the spirit of the Enlightenment (Haskalah), as in the old, traditional Jewish life.

G. did not receive any systematic education. According to B. Gorin, G. had a good knowledge of Hebrew, although the playwright Michael Goldberg, who later was a member of the household with G. in America when he already had written for the Yiddish theatre -- denied it.

G. diligently read and studied Russian literature. A special impression was made upon him by [François] Fénelon's book "[Les aventures de] Télémaque (The Adventures of Telemachus)," which he had read many times, and the Russian translation of the English novel, "Vos vet er ton dermit? (What Will He Do With It?)," by Bulwer-Lytton, which he committed to memory.

At the age of seventeen G. began his literary activities in provincial Russian newspapers. He got married at nineteen years of age and lost the dowry, leaving him to wander about. He became a day laborer, then a ship worker in Odessa's port. He performed as an actor in a Russian itinerant troupe [according to B. Gorin, until his arrival in America, Gordin hadn't any relationship with the stage], and he [also] became a teacher. At this time he also began, under the pseudonyms of Yakov Michailovitch, Ivan Kolyutshy [the prickly one], et al, to systematically work with the southern Russia press: "Odessky Viestnik," "Novorosisky Telegraf" and "Pravda," also becoming an unofficial editor of the Russian newspapers "Yelisavetgradsky Viestnik," and "Odesskya Novosty," and he wrote stories for the Ukrainian newspaper "Zarya (Dawn)," which a Ukrainian group had published.


In 1880 Gordin began printing in a St. Petersburg Russian newspaper "Nyedyela" stories and pictures of Jewish life. Especially in regards to Jewish dissenters with at home he had become familiar in Elizavetgrad, and also a theatre critic "A.P. Jan," had a strong influence upon Gordin. The dissenter Mikhailovich was completely under the influence of Tolstoy’s religious and social ideas and thinking about traditional yiddishkayt from an assimilated, rationalistic point of view. Gordin came up with the idea to bring the concepts, these principles, from the dissenters in Judaism to reform the entire Jewish life style. To adapt the Jewish religion to a rationalistic, ethic, socialistic built upon the foundation of pure biblical Judaism and return the Jewish masses, who are mainly concerned with business and hair-brained schemes from these to physical labor, most importantly working the land. Gordin saw this as the only answer to the Jewish question. 

In order to propagandize these ideas, G. with several of his adherents, founded in Yelisavetgrad in January 1880, the "Dukhovnoye Bibleyskoye Bramstvo" ["Spiritual Biblical Brotherhood'], in which he himself took an active part.

The organization recognized religion only as a complex of ethical norms, denied in all dogmas, in assumptions of the mind, had rejected the entire religious ritual, the ceremonial of weddings and circumcisions, and held to a freer interpretation of Tanakh, in the spirit of the time and of modern science.

After the pogroms in 1881, the organization, which from the start had quickly evoked a strong opposition in the Yiddish circles, fell apart.

G. now tried, together with several members of the organization, to found a Jewish colony as muster for the Russian Jew, but the Russian government did not permit the purchase of land for the colony, and the Peterburg funds of the Jewish governor Polyakov was said to have given the necessary monetary support for this. G. [then] went away by himself to a village, where he worked the earth there for three years. Returning in 1884 to Yekaterinoslav he had, together with Anna Poksarov and Gr. Bernstein, revived the previous organization that on 24 January 1885 became legalized. The "supplication house" of that organization was used every Shabbes for assemblies, in which G. and others used to orate verses of Tanakh in the spirit of Tolstoy-ism.

G. also managed to found a "Shtundist" circle in Odessa , where M.L. Lilienblum often used to produce sharp critiques against the sects. [After G.'s death, Lilienblum published in Peterburg's "Der fraynd" a sharp article against G., mentioning him in his "Khtat neurim."] G. later endeavored to include a large part of these ideas into his dramas.

1889 -- G. was one of the co-founders of the small colony of the Tolstoyist Feinerman [Teneremo], but due to the great deal of propaganda among the peasants, the government forbade the activity of the organization. Then G. immigrated to America with a plan to found there a colony with a Communist foundation.

As G. recounts in his memoirs in Kh.Y. Minikes' "Di yidishe bine (The Yiddish Stage)," he arrived in New York on 31 July 1891. Here he soon came into contact with the Jewish socialist colony, and although he could speak Yiddish weakly, he entered into work for the former weekly "Di arbeter tsaytung." On 21 August 1891, he published there his first work in Yiddish. He wrote here under the name of "Yakov ben mikhal," which was ostensibly a fragment of a private letter from Russia, "The Pogrom in Elizavetgrad." On 4 September 1891, it was printed there (already under G.'s own name): "Di oblave -- oys dem yidishn lebn in rusland."

On 11 September 1891 G. published there his "Pantole palge far dem bit-din shel melh," which was "presented" by Rudolph Marks [in his own "stage adaptation," as a monologue], on 26 November 1891 in the Roumanian Opera House as a benefit produced for "Di arbeter tsaytung."

"Pantole polge," which portrays a poor tailor in his world who curses the exploitation in the world, was performed year long by Marks during various evenings put on by the radical circles or the newly-founded unions.

However, "Di arbeter tsaytung" [according to Ab. Cahan] was not able to pay such an amount that would allow G. to support his large family. Philip Krantz then advised him to write a play for the Yiddish theatre. To this purpose, G. brought together Jacob P. Adler and Sigmund Mogulesko -- and G. took to writing his first drama: "Siberia."

J.P. Adler, who staged "Siberia," recalls that [according to "Jacob P. Adler" by S. Dingol]: "One evening I happened upon Gordin in a wine cellar on the East Side, where the entire, former Jewish intelligentsia used to come. Per usual, I highly expressed my concern about a play that was to be performed, and looking at Gordin, I said: 'Perhaps you would write a play for me?.' I had kept in my pocket a German book -- some drama. I gave it to Gordin and said to him: 'Here you have a finished thing -- here, make a Yiddish play from this for me.' Gordin, with a fine gesture, returned the German book and answered: 'No, if I write a play, I will write a Yiddish play, not any German play with Jewish names.'

"Gordin had kept a Russian newspaper near him. In that he read a story about someone who was sent away to Siberia. He fled from there and returned. 'This person is a subject for a play' -- Gordin said to me, and so he constructed the play "Siberia," for which Gordin received one hundred dollars."

What a concept G. had then about Yiddish theatre, that one could see from his memoirs:

"I was very curious to see a Yiddish actor, to see what kind of animal is this? ... I thought as well that I may only express this in a drama, in which the Yiddish actor would begin to perform in a role: he would wipe his nose with his sleeve, bring out a stool and recite one of the popular folks poems, as for example:

'Little goat, migele, little one, red oranges,
when Daddy beats Mommy, the kids go out to dance.'

"Imagine, instead of this, I met with some gentleman who had not only wore 'silk hats' [cylinders], and had nose handkerchiefs, but also who had addressed this matter. From some of them I had seen eyes through which had seen the funk of talent. In their faces I saw the impression of intellect, ideas. So completely? -- I had thought -- when the Yiddish performer was a person such as the performers on the great world stage, that the Yiddish stage may not be like all theatres."

However, about his first visit to a Yiddish theatre, he recalls:

" ... Everything that I had seen and heard was far from Jewish life, thick, not esthetic, false, base and corrupt. Woe is me! -- I had thought this, and that I am going home and would settle in to write my first drama, which one had given the name "Siberia." I wrote my first play as a fearer of God, a scribe writing a Sefer Torah. ... But what is this scourge, the couplet, R' Yankl? Can there be a Yiddish drama without couplets? -- they said to me. Do you really want couplets? -- I said, Ot tobi handzya knish -- and they gave a couplet, indeed a couplet with the name "Ot tobi handzya knish."

When I am going to read my first play, I had taken with me my three countrymen, also to stand by me and wait, because they had said to me that all Yiddish actors are thieves, murderers. They want to snatch from me the play and flee. ... But, heaven forbid, they didn't violate me. Everything was going peacefully until the rehearsal began. The first part they had begun to talk about, that "Ot tobi handzya knish" is very little, that they should do a 'kamarinsky.' Again my play had become Germanized, and my hero Rosenkranz, instead of the simple words: 'R' Berl Taretuta, why do you want to make me miserable?', had been excluded as such from the monologue: "Most high Mr. Barel Tareturye, when the large tiger springs and is shot, when the leopard travels and bites, then justice in heaven triumphs, and the pure Yiddish fans should possibly feel the sound of Israel."

"Well, well, I have given them a 'mi sheberech' [prayer for the infirmed and ill.] Even lions and leopards have trembled and danced for joy and sang holy, holy."

"I didn't attend the first two productions of my first play, as I had been ill, nervous, offended, discontent. With my first-born dramatic child I immediately knew it only then, when I received a letter of apology from Mssrs. Adler, Mogulesko, Kessler and Feinman."

G.'s  first play "Siberia" was staged on 13 November 1891 in the Union Theatre with the following personnel:

Avraham Rozenkranz
His wife
His daughter
Levin, a teacher
Samuel, a student
Samurov, a research judge
Berel Taratutye
Shpendik, a servant
  Jacob P. Adler
Paulina Edelstein
Sara Adler
Sigmund Feinman
Dina Feinman
Leon Blank
David Kessler
Cesar Greenberg
Sigmund Mogulesko

About the play and its production, B. Gorin writes in his "History of the Yiddish Theatre": "Already the first piece, his 'Siberia,' excelled with such ease, that we didn't see on the Yiddish stage the Yiddish theatre had become banned in Russia. The subject is muddled ... The personnel, although no more than pods, were but pods of living beings  ... each later act is stiffly connected to the earlier ones, and each break from the author or a performer is done away with. The words bind one to the other, which comes forth on stage in splendor. In the theatre, one further hears the pure mother tongue, not any Yiddish with psukhin [religious decrees], nor any germanization, only true 'Jewish Yiddish.' "

"Already in his first drama 'Siberia', G. shows off his faults, his virtues, and his tendencies, with his beliefs, which he will remain faithful to during the entire time of his [later] activity on the stage. ... 'Siberia' was written in the newness of Haskalah. The pious Jews here were made fun of, and the present-day was set forth in a fine light. ... The entire tragedy of 'Siberia. is supported by denunciation and cruelty, and the play is imbued with a sharp protest about this. It is the idea that this play has given life to, and which makes the audience remember once they leave the theatre.

"A new achievement of Gordin was to distribute from the stage the mask of a comic and give life to the comical element. ... [He] may have more or less a similarity to living, human beings.

"More than ever it showed in "Siberia," that Gordin had the dramatic sense built around a situation that should pack the audience. ... Why Gordin was destined to become the reformer of the Yiddish theatre. ... The dramatic sense at that time was stronger for him than the dramatic talent, and this helped him to gain favor with the actors, and with the better part of the constant theatre attendees.

"The first piece, 'Siberia,' had not made a great impression on the habitual theatre-goer, but it had brought there into the theatre such people who had previously not seen it. The public had received the coverage of the intelligentsia and the circle of theatre attendees increased significantly. ... They have seen with their eyes how yesterday's mess became transformed in a theatre, and how yesterday's comedians display all the marks of the true artist."

Ab. Cahan writes about the offering (in his review in "Di arbeter tsaytung"): "As big and broad her faults should not be, it is however nevertheless a talent-filled true literary work. On the Yiddish stage it stands isolated from every other dramatic work, which were specially written by Yiddish dramaturges." And in his "Pages of my Life": "With this play there began a new chapter in the history of the Yiddish stage. ... When they wanted his "Siberia" staged today, the play was supposed to be a melodrama, and for a very bad thing, although it is very dramatic. However then what they played on the Yiddish stage was a new one. ... His (G.'s) name, however, is immediately set in his personality, a strong feeling overcame him ... With his brave, firm, demanding nature he held the actors far away from himself, filling them with dread.

Leon Blank, who had participated in the offering of the play, recalls (according to the "Memoirs of a Yiddish dramaturge" by Leon Kobrin): "Besides Adler, none of those in the company (Mogulesko, Kessler, Feinman, Blank and others) were excited about the play. ... Almost all of the actors, besides Adler, made fun of the play and Mogulesko had yet to explain: "That the Jew, the fan, with the dark beard, is, it seems to me, very anti-Semitic! ... Mogulesko had another reason to not be happy with the play, because the comic hero there -- " Der meshores pendik (The Servant Pendik)" -- was also nothing like the comic roles he used to take on in previous plays. For an entire week G. did not appear at the rehearsals. ... Friday, for the general rehearsal, he came. He gave a look: in the first act Kessler sang with a chorus an entire opera. He asked: "What is that?," and they declared to him: "Since Kessler (in the role of "Saburov") is to get ready for a concert for this: a delicious and sumptuous meal from the Red Cross, to sing some decent music, therefore Mogulesko supported him for the opera "Renani" ("Ernani"). G. smoothed out his beard and said "Lando" (Good.) Then they had a rehearsal of the third act. Mogulesko springs up -- who plays the "servant Pendik" -- with a little dance and a couplet, which he alone had composed. Gordin looks at him with eyes wide open: "What is that? -- he cries out -- "Shto eto za svinstvo? (What is this vaping?)." They answered him: "A comic, he must indeed then sing and dance ... " "Nye pozvolyu, merzavtski! -- cries out Gordin -- It is not permitted." Mogulesko also went crazy and answered, showing him a fig: "Vot tebye, hantshi, knish!" (the name of G.'s couplet). He gets back from G. another heartfelt word, and Mogulesko again turns back and Kessler and Feinman mix in as well, agreeing with Mogulesko, only one Adler agrees with Gordin. Finally the scandal ensued between Gordin and Mogulesko, until it reached its highest level. Mogulesko shouted at him: "Get out, you black beard, you anti-Semite, your cloth should not be in the theatre!" And they drove G. out of the theatre. More after: for the first production of his "Siberia," there was no proof that Gordin was in the theatre, because Mogulesko declared, if Gordin comes, he will not play. And Gordin did not come to the theatre for the first production of his first play.

"The first two acts of the play failed terribly. The audience chuckled and hushed everyone up and laughed at the play and at the actors. Adler truly felt miserable. After two acts he appeared before the audience, and with true tears in his voice held that he considered, as he gave me such a speech:

" ... Ashamed and humiliated I stand, my head bowed in shame that you, Gospoda (the public), I cannot understand that masterwork of the famous Russian writer Yakov Michailovich Gordin. Gospoda, Gospoda, when or if you understood what a great work we are playing for you today, you would not laugh or chuckle.

At this point Adler cried out loud. This made a vivid impression upon the audience, and they applauded him with much enthusiasm. After that they continued with the third act. The audience changed. In this scene when Adler, the actor, playing as Rosenzweig came to Beryl Taratutya to ask him to have mercy on him and please not to inform on him. At that moment the theatre fell, as somber as Yom Kippur in the theatre. And after the third act when the curtain fell, the audience once again applauded heartily. Even more, the audience was moved emotionally in the scene in the epilogue which takes place in "Siberia."  In this scene Rosenzweig is sent back to a forced labor penal colony. A duet is sung by Rosenzweig and Spendik, his servant. When Mogulesko, who was performing as Spendik, said the following: "We're going to separate now," he cried so hard that he could not even speak. The great artist played this scene so well, that in the theatre you couldn't hear a pin drop ... This success convinced Mogulesko to ask for forgiveness from Gordin. On Saturday Gordin came to the theatre, and for the first time he saw his play. The audience together with the performers gave him a standing ovation.

Bessie Thomashefsky tells (in her book "Mayn lebens geshikhte ( My Life History)": ... News was going around in our theatre-world, that in the "Union Theatre" they were staging a play, which was very odd. The characters speak in a strange manner, which resembles more the language spoken at home, rather than the proper language used on stage. I too was confused by news of this strange play. Even more I was confused by the writer. Everyone has a different explanation. All of the actors were curious enough to want to go to 'The Union Theatre' to see how this play was performed, and if indeed they spoke like ordinary people. ... But the biggest fear was that Mister Gordin, so they say, is an expert of the theatre and is an intellectual. The word "intellectual" frightened the Yiddish actors very much. ... I went to the "Union Theatre" to see this strange new play "Siberia." Since my curiosity was more than usually unnatural, you must understand that I was very disappointed. The play was "dry," meaning that the drama or a documentary was lacking all of the "trimmings" with which I was accustomed to seeing, for example, in one of Latayner's plays. Hence, I was delighted with the "prose." ... The play did not make a very favorable impression upon the audience at first. ... None the less the actors had a favorable reaction to "Siberia" and to the new writer, Mister Gordin."

"Siberia" was never put into print. The subject is gone over in B. Gorin's "History of the Yiddish Theatre" (Vol. II, pp. 113-115), in the review of Ab. Cahan ("Di arbeter tsaytung," N. Y., 27 November 1891), and in Bessie Thomashefsky's "My Life History" (pp. 196-197).

On 18 January 1892 in the Roumanian Opera House, G.'s play, "Der pogrom in rusland (The Pogrom in Russia)" was staged, with the following personnel:

Itzhak Halpern
Sarah Henye, his wife
Sonia, one of their children
Eda, one of their children
Pavlik Turbatsh
Gritska, an impudent boy
Frume yente
  Max Karp
Bina Abramovich
Sophie Karp
Bessie Thomashefsky
Izidor Weinblatt
Morris Finkel
Boris Thomashefsky
Charlie Goldberg
Anna Manne
Solomon Manne
Jacob Gordin

Bessie Thomashefsky portrays as such the preparations and production of this play: "We [in the Roumanian Opera House] prepared for some new masterpiece of Latayner's. The actors were all on stage and rehearsed and Moyshele [Finkel was the second in command] came onto the stage, and Finkel said that some Jew with a beard wanted to see us. Finkel now was very deeply into the rehearsal and he answered Moyshele, that he should say to the joker with the beard to come at Purim to the feast, that there will more time for him to bathe [farnemen]. Moyshele obeyed and went away with the "message" [messenger]. But he soon returned with the parameters and squealed with his thin, little voice: "Mister Finkel, the joker is no joker, the joker is Mister Gordin." Finkel quickly caught himself and ran to meet Mister Gordin, who had come out from under the stage, where we had rehearsed. Gordin spoke in Russian and [when=bet] Finkel, so one could hear a play. He recalled that he had several plays, but he only wanted to read one, he said. He waited until we finished our rehearsal. We already could do it "on one leg," as we say, so that Mister Gordin shouldn't see that we had rehearsed and as such we performed. During the entire time, Finkel spoke with him and pronounced about the play. Gordin came to Finkel silent and listened. When he did not nod his head or say a few words. They were given a complaint. ... and in the morning we came all together. ... Soon Mr. Gordin came in with a small book under his hand. Finkel saw the small book and asked Gordin: "Is that all?" Gordin measured him up with a look from his head to his feet and quietly answered, "It is enough."

"His appearance had us all impressed. He was tall and skinny, with a remarkably beautiful, noble face. Deep, wise eyes, a beautiful dark beard, cleanly kept. A great black head of hair turned on the neck, a large, soft black hat with a wide band, a poor but darned, elegant suit. and with a cane in his hand.

"We sat all around and heard his remarks -- until he finished the reading of the play. ... We finished dining little and decided to take the play. ... Finkel spoke business with him and said, "Mister Gordin, do you want to sell the play? We will give you six dollars, as a gentile, in contrast to the "Kh," but mostly he then spoke Russian, his favorite language. He hesitated a little, and after a short pause he answered: "Will you perform it exactly as I have written it? -- tak kharashow [it is good]." We spoke separately about the roles, and it's not who's going to play the "pristav." Finkel is not lazy and pays no attention. To play the role and sacrifice [reads] for him an entire sixty-five dollars, that is, fifteen dollars for playing the three performances, and if the play, that is, goes more than three times, each week is five dollars for each performance. Gordin answers in Yiddish: "Charasho, I need some cash for my family!." Finkel "criticized" someone in the play, and he wanted music. He wants to bring in [musicians] that people should do a hop, but Gordin spoke strictly, with a pointed finger in the air: "Don't say anything, gospoda! Eto ya nye rozvolyu! Music? Charasho, [Gentlemen, I don't allow this, do you want music? Good!] I I will give you the Talarasiskaya music that fits you very well!" Finally they were compared and agreed and ... they made an exception and gave him ten dollars in advance.

"The first rehearsal came: In the first act there is a scene where they play "Fan Tan" [a card game]. Finkel wants to put in here a hop, with a little song, but Gordin doesn't allow it. There becomes a violent debate between Finkel and Gordin. Gordin quietly takes the book under his arm, says Goodbye, and leaves. One of our troupe quickly follows him and brings him back. This did not come too easily. They had to say to Gordin that they will do everything that he reads. The rehearsals were under Gordin's supervision. He did not miss even one rehearsal. He also, by himself, ordered the clothing. ... He had played the role of "pristav" entirely in Russian, with not a word spoken in Yiddish.

"Finally the production comes. Every actor was nervous until they were crazy. Into the theatre came an audience, who had never been seen in any Yiddish theatre. ... Gordin dressed the same, like all the actors. ... The first scene is placed and the "Pristav" enters. In the theatre there became a tumult and a sensation. The whole audience got up from the seats and cried, "Gordin! Hurray Gordin!." Hats were flying in the air. People were messing around with things. It was hardly agreed that they could continue playing. Gordin must speak, it's still his line, but he's still moving, head down, eyes to the floor. Everyone on the stage is waiting, and he is silent. He was terribly frightened, until Thomashefsky from behind the scenes, said something to him: "So, Gospodin Gordin!." As if from a heavy sleep, Gordin suddenly got up, lifted his beard that was lying on his breast and said: "Da, da, tshto zdyem, Gospoda?" (Yes, yes, what's here, gentlemen?). And the play is going on further, and there comes a certain scene where they do not have him, Gordin, that is, the pristav, bribery, and they are carried under a whiskey with fish with all goodness, but he should not bribe the Jews [?] Bina Abramowitz carries a piece of fish to him and wishes him a hearty, eat in god health. In addition, she adds a theatrical, clamorous approach. "Let him be annoyed," so that the public would enjoy when they were cursing the wicked "pristav." At times, Gordin punches and cries with a loud voice: "Perestantye, eto nye napysano" (Listen, it is not written so). We were all scared of his cries."

"After each act they were very applauded. Countless times the players were called out, and in particular they cried out, "Gordin." We have never seen such enthusiasm in the theatre before. We had the 'pogrom' played for several weeks with a sheer moralistic success. ... They didn't make any money. The small number of intelligentsia indeed came to the theatre. We were happy to read such sweet prose as Gordin's, but the "Tolerbrengers," the true patrons of the theatre, that is, this great worthy public is not coming. For them Gordin had to work hard to earn."

The play then was no longer performed, and also it was never published. Its subject is stated in Bessie Thomashefsky's "My Life's History" (pp. 200-204), and in Gordin's article in "Di arbeter tsaytung" of 15 April 1892.

G. felt the cold relationship to his plays, the situation of the great public, and also of the criticism and responded to it with a satirical humoresque under the name "Di sujet fun mayn tsufinftige drame (The Subject of my Future Drama?)," published on 20 May 1892 in "Di arbeter tsaytung."

However, G.'s new direction  soon brought him recognition in the theatre world: when a group of the prominent actors (Jacob P. Adler and Sara Adler, Keni Lipzin, Moshe and Ester Zilberman) united into one troupe in the Union Theatre, inviting G. to be the "author" and -- according to the custom -- put his name on the theater company.

Not having to demonstrate by writing his own plays, Gordin adapted two plays of Avraham Goldfaden, and so directed there on 26 August 1892 G.'s adaptation of Goldfaden's "Meylets yoysher (The Messenger of Justice?)," oder, "Der zig fun gerekhtikayt," and on 5 October 1892 G.'s adaptation of Goldfaden's "Meshiekh's tsaytn (The Time of the Messiah?)."

The offerings evoked from the press a strong discussion between G., the public, and the writer Louie Miller and Jacob Milkh. And already here G. shows his principles, which are not to be felt or condemned to be criticized, but to answer separately -- a position that later had a great impact on the course of his dramaturgical activity. So he answered H' Socher, a critic of Goldfaden: ... "May God bless me for something of his fame, and of his spiritual riches. The small works, which I give the Yiddish theatre, hear me! And never again will I be so depressed, I should enjoy some of the Yiddish playwrights ... Yes, I am not ashamed to repeat your Yiddish expression, H' Socher, Goldfaden is not Gordin, and Gordin is not Goldfaden."

Circa October-November 1892 in the Union Theatre (21 October 1892 -- ed.), there was staged G.'s play "Der yidisher kenig lir (The Jewish King Lear)."

According to Harry Gotti, in the play was staged with the following personnel:

David Moisheles
Chana Leah
Etele, one of their children
Gitele, one of their children
Teibele, one of their children
Avraham Charif
Moishe Chasid
  Jacob P. Adler
Anna Manne
Mary Wilensky
Mrs. Simon
Sara Adler
Lazar Goldstein
Solomon Manne
Shmuel Tabatshnikov
Berl Bernstein

Also now "he had [G.] -- as Leon Kobrin tells it -- again  a "shtitske" [clash], and precisely with Jacob Gordin himself. ... The main issue for the clash was about why Adler had inserted his own "prose" into the play ... that "clash" had again ended with it, that Adler had given in to Gordin. And it ended with nothing, ... because Adler in the role of the "Jewish King Lear" was more the exception than in "Siberia." And about the play itself Kobrin wrote: "Although the subject of the play is taken partly from Shakespeare's "King Lear," and part of it from a German play "King Krause," is nevertheless fully his. Good or bad, as the people there were not portrayed from the literary and dramatic point of view, they were only his people, Yiddish-shaped, Yiddish scenes, a Yiddish environment and the most, the teacher Gordin who presses through the entire play."

B. Gorin wrote: "The most richly successful of Gordin's first plays is 'The Yiddish King Lear.' which remains in the repertoire of Yiddish theatrical performances till the present time, and will do so for a long, long, time to come. It raises up the hearts of the Yiddish theatre-goer. It is unnecessary to say that from the standpoint of literature, that this piece was a cheap item. However, in those days 'The Jewish King Lear' was a daring step forward for the Yiddish stage. ... Directors thought of such plays as being dried up (without song), which could never find any attraction for the larger masses. But the great brilliant success of 'The Jewish King Lear' showed that their concept about 'dried up' was false, and Gordin's position in the theatrical world was from now on much stronger."

Strenger refers to the play by David Pinski in his brochure "Di yidishe drama (The Yiddish Drama)."  " ... In it we can clearly recognize the elements of the Goldfaden School. They throw themselves before our eyes.  First of all there is the buffoon in this piece, and the servant "Shammai." These aren't Shakespeare's fools who lecture King Lear. He is yiddishized in this play. Only Goldfaden's clown is imitated here. He's a kind of joker who is, with great trouble, dragged into this bit.  ... Then there is music, the choirs, and the solos and there are also the comments about education and fanaticism; spoken in a ridiculous loose style. Above all is the spirit with which it appears, so that all the fine and trustworthy people are from the enlightened and educated -- all of this seems to be taken right out of Goldfaden and Shomer's works.

... The first act seems to appear merely as a parody upon Shakespeare's "King Lear."   ... Gordin probes into the width, but not into the depths. ... He comes across in the eyes of the spectator as a "trashy writer."

Similarly, Z. Kornblit states in his "Di dramatishn kunst" (The Art of Drama)": "Dovid Moysheles ... is hungry, he wants a piece of radish, he screams out and causes havoc, yet he is not given any radishes. We feel a great pity for him, and we cry with bitter tears. If someone would have brought a plate of radishes with chicken fat onto the stage, it would not have been a tragedy."

The constant accusation by Gordin that he adapted this play from Shakespeare, allowed him to step out onto the stage on 21 December 1892 at his benefit in the Thalia Theatre with a talk on this subject: "What was Shakespeare's influence on "Der yidishe kenig lir" (The Jewish King Lear)."  In his memoirs he writes: "How the actors can make a mistake as they act in a play, and how despite this the people understand it. I can explain with a few interesting facts: I read "Der yidishe kenig lir" an actor said to me that this play will appear on a poster from Friday till Saturday. Another actor said to me, that he had seen this play in German. He said that word after was word written by a writer, Herr Shakespeare. A Jewish person from a literary background told me that it was adapted from a story by Turgenev named "Shtipinyak."

Mostly the audience understands nothing of the important role that an author plays. After the first performance of "Kenig lir" I heard how an old Jew was heard to say: "A good piece, it contains all the important ethics of life." "I thank you" -- I happily said to him. "Why are you so happy?" he asked -- "I am the author." "What does author mean?" he inquired. "I wrote it." "Why did you have to write it again?."

The play till this day remains in the repertoire of the Yiddish stage. This is due to the fact that it was the favorite work of Jacob P. Adler, and throughout his life it was performed only by him. At first, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Jacob Silbert (overriding Adler's preference) staged it in Romania, and since then it has entered the repertoire of Yiddish theatre in Europe."

On 30 June 1921 "The Jewish King Lear" in the Hebrew translation by Tsuhr [Ben-Tsion Yedidah] was staged in Jerusalem in the "Zion" Theatre.

In 1908 "The Jewish King Lear," was engaged by H.A. Russotto, was published by the New York "Hebrew Publishing Company."

In connection with a production of the play, on 19 December 1905 in New York for the "George Jessel Lodge Number 566, Independent Order B'nai B'rith," published in English a table of contents for the play.

According to Z. Reisen, in Odessa in 1912 the play was published in the Russian translation of D. Rozenblat.

In 1893 -- according to B. Gorin -- there was staged Gordin's play "Der mord in medison avenue (The Death on Madison Avenue)." The play was soon out of the repertory and never was put into print.

On 4 November 1893, under Adler's direction, there was staged in the Windsor Theatre G.'s lebensbild (life portrait), "Der vilder mentsh (The Wild Man)," music by Mogulesko and Friedsell.

The personnel for the premiere -- according to Harry Gotti -- were as follows:

Shmuel Leiblich
Vladimir Vorobeytshik
  Morris Finkel
Pauline Edelstein
Sonia Nadolsky
Sara Adler
Jacob P. Adler
Sigmund Mogulesko
Elias Rothstein
F. Tabatshnikov

David Pinski wrote about this play: "There isn't one real living person in this play and throughout its entire treatment … However, at the time when "Der Vilder Mentsh (The Wild Man)" was staged, a significant destiny was in progress.

Ab. Cahan wrote: Gordin's remarkable instinct for the theatre can be seen very strongly in the "Vilder mentsh." Less than three-quarters of the entire play smells of the "literature" of Latayner. But the scenes were put together with significant urgency, and when the actors possess talent and experience it becomes very interesting to see. We sit through it as though glued to our seats."

As it is with "The Jewish King Lear," so too with "The Wild Man," which was for many years an excluded work by Jacob P. Adler, until Louie Heyman (without Adler's permission) brought this play to Europe and directed it there. Since then almost every young actor's ambition was to appear in it, at least in a secondary role.

In 1907 the play was presented in Warsaw (without the knowledge or supervision of the author): "The Wild Man," a life portrait in five acts, with seven pictures of Jacob Gordin" (page 54 with a photo of the actor Meyerson in the role of "The Wild Man").

In 1893 Elias Rothstein wrote: At the benefit of Gordin's one-act play "The Dear Artist" (included in Gordin's one act plays).

Gordin's recognition in the theatre expanded. He felt even more secure in his new position and became the "sole master" over his plays: Mogulesko, at times, in a performance of a Gordin play wanted to add his own jokes. Sigmund Feinman earned an even more earnest reprimand for speaking his own phrases.  But -- when Adler took over the Roumanian Opera House Theatre, and Gordin became the house author, he just like B. Gorin remarked: It was possible to resist the temptation of the experience when it was pointed out to him  that he could win over the great masses. He began to compete with the other writers, lowering himself to their level.  ... As a writer plays of renown should have poured out of him; hence he couldn't be too picky."

These plays came out of that era "Der parnas khoydesh" ("The Council Member in Charge"), "Rav HaKollel" ("Rabbi of the Academy"). Regarding this field -- Gorin further stated -- he did not shine and the large masses were not won over by him."

Both plays soon disappeared from the stage. They were also never published.

On 16 March 1894 in the same theatre, there was staged G.'s play "Der vilder galekh (The Wild Priest[?])." Also the play as "the property of Adler" was performed only by him, and at first later (without Adler's knowledge) was brought by Louis Heyman to Europe, and soon was performed on all the Yiddish stages, remaining in the Yiddish repertoire until the present day.

"Der vilder galekh" was never put into print.

On 3 May 1894 in Adler's Theatre there was staged a benefit performance for G., for whom there was presented G.'s one-act comedy with music "Yukel der opereten-makher (Yukel, the Operetta Maker [?])." The one-acter is a satire of the dramatists then. [printed in G.'s "One-Acters"].

At each time a strike was called by the actors against Adler. G. put himself on the side of the actors, and on 17 August 1894, he printed in "Di arbeter tsaytung," "a letter to the editor," in which he declared that due to the exploitation of Adler, a strike was proclaimed in his theatre. He [G.] therefore crossed over from Adler's theatre to the Thalia Theatre, where he would arrange a benefit performance for the striking actors, and he demanded from the public that their support for the benefit.

In that Thalia Theatre, on 15 September 1894 G.'s play, "Di litvishe brider lurie (The Litvak Lurie Brothers)," was staged. [built from the subject of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"].

The personnel of the premiere were -- according to Elias Rothstein:

Gedalyahu Lurie
Frume Ite
Tuviya Lurie
R' Shraga
Sarah Devorah
Alter Tsipes
  Boris Thomashefsky
Mary Epstein
Keni Lipzin
Elias Rothstein
S. Tobias
Morris Finkel
Bessie Thomashefsky
Moshe Simonoff
Berl Bernstein

The play remains in the repertoire.

In November 1908 "Di brider lurie" was staged in Warsaw. The reason for this production written by Noah Prilutski in his book "Yiddish Theatre": "The play is a memorial for the old way of Jewish life, and this form of his is already dead today. However, nevertheless, it is a weak play, not any drama. B. Gorin remarked: "He wrote superficially wooden melodramas. Knowing that this thing was put together overnight and made to measure to the public taste."

In 1907 the play "Di gebrider luria (The Brothers Luria)," a life's portrait in four acts by Jacob Gordin, without the knowledge of the author. (issued in Warsaw, 16o, 51 pp.).

Performed on 18 October 1894 in the Thalia Theatre, "Mohammad und zayn yorn in Arabia (Mohammed and His Years in Arabia)" -- an historic opera in four acts, music by Reverend Corantman." This play did not last for too long. It was also never published.

In 1895 Gordin made a first attempt to write a play based upon Jewish life in America: "Der rusisher yid in america (The Russian Jew in America)."

The development of this play, according to B. Gorin, in those days made a strong impression. Nor with its stage success, but rather with the strong discussions which arose out of its presentation. ... The unforgettable Huzrak (the name of the hero), whose classical approach (in the way he handled matters in the union): "Why do I need brains if I have a constitution?" was well familiar to the people and created a lot of bad blood. Ab. Cahan, editor of the Socialist worker's newspaper, who came  to the theatre to see a performance as a critic, seated in the loge, screamed out in Russian: "Eto Lozsh!" (This is a lie!) For a long, long time they debated and both grew hot under the collar. The issue was Gordin and union rights. Gordin had only Huzrak as his defender. (Huzrak, through Gordin, was presented as a soul who had "sold out," and who was an insincere person.)

No other bit of theatre characterizes Gordin as much as "The Russian Jew." It was more than usual to give a black eye to the unions because its most ardent members were held by him (Gordin) to be the progressive workers. Therefore he was not frightened by them. His basic satire was turned to this matter, and he was thought of as being nauseating. ... In the "Russian Jew," Gordin also proclaimed his own feeling towards his newly adopted land. The thick colors in his publication were not done for effect, but reflected how he really saw things. Offering himself as a model. ... Gordin was often controlled by such strong feelings, that they got in the way of him seeing the truth that an artist must possess.

A critique by Ab. Cahan caused Gordin to respond with a sharp article in which he once more stated that he considers his plays to be masterworks. And that he is above and beyond all criticism. Ab. Cahan answered: If this is Gordin's approach, I will no longer write about any of his plays. Peace was eventually made between the two of them. "I no longer critiqued any of his dramas. In the passage of a long time, I have certainly never written any critiques. Personally we maintain a good relationship."

"The Russian Jew in America" later disappeared from the repertoire and was never published. The subject of the play can be found in Cahan's review, and in Gordin's response in "Di arbeter tsaytung," July 1895. 

On the 23 January 1895 in Adler's Theatre at Gordin's benefit they staged Ibsen's "Nora," which was publicized as "Nes b'Toch Nes (Miracle Within Miracle) arranged by Gordin and Winchevsky."  ("Nora" was later published and printed in a translation by M. Winchevsky.) At one performance Gordin gave a lecture, "How I Became a Writer of Yiddish Dramas" (printed in Minikes' "Di yidishe bine" -- "The Jewish Stage," New York 1897, and reprinted in Z. Zylberczweig's "Behind the Curtain" (Vilna 1928).

In October 1895 in Adler's Theatre they also staged Gordin's drama "Egel HaZahav, oder, Der goldener gott -- The Golden Calf (in Hebrew}, or, the Golden God" (in Yiddish). The play did not last too long. It was never published. The theme of this play was described in a review in "The Worker's Journal" from 11 October1895.

In November 1895 Gordin's play "Di nekome (The Revenge)" was staged. This too was only performed for a short period of time. This play was never released in print. The subject of the play was offered in a review in "The Worker's Newspaper" from 6 December 1895.

In that same year (1895), according to B. Gorin, they also staged Gordin's plays: "Galileo der martirer fun visenshaft," (Galileo, the Martyr of Science), which closed almost immediately. "Der shvartser yid" (The Black Jew), oder, Meier Yusopovitch (according to Eliza Arzsheshkovitch's novel). It also had a very short run; however it is still performed from time to time. Both plays were never printed.

On 10 January 1896 (according to B. Gorin the date was 1892) they presented in Adler's Theatre Gordin's play ,"Tzvey veltn (Two Worlds, or, The Great Socialist." This play was cancelled almost immediately. It too was never printed.

The accusations that Gordin had negative, even an "anti-Semitic" attitude to the various types of Jews in his plays caused him to appear on 12 February 1896, during a benefit, with a lecture based on the theme "Anti-Semitism in Jacob Gordin's Plays."

In 1906, according to B. Gorin -- Gordin's translation of Grillparzer's "Medea" with Keni Lipzin in the title role.

This play shortly thereafter (without the knowledge of the author) was brought to Europe and was staged frequently, and until this day it remains in several repertoires.

In 1897 "Medea" appeared in print: "Medea, a historical tragedy in four acts, reworked for the Yiddish stage by Jacob Gordin." In 1913 it was reprinted in Warsaw.

On 6 March 1896 in Adler's Theatre they staged "Der folks faynd (Enemy of the People), a classical work by Henrik Ibsen, edited for the Yiddish stage by Jacob Gordin."

The play was immediately removed from the stage and was also not printed.

On 27 March 1896 in Adler's Theatre, they staged Gordin's "Di dray printsen" (The Three Princes)."

This play was performed for a short time and was never printed.

A similar fate befell Gordin's plays: "Kapital (Capital)," "Libe un mord (Love and Death)," "Der vilner kenig (The Vilna King)," a fantasy opera,  "Kol shofar (The Sound of the Ram's Horn)," reworked from the Italian opera by Verdi "Ernani"), and "Forverts (Forward)," (translated from Stepnyak's drama), which, according to B. Gorin was staged in the same year.

"Several of the mentioned plays," said B. Gorin, "were reworked, adapted, all of which were poorly done with very little literary merit."

However, Gordin's "Shloimke charlatan" (Shlomo the Charlatan) met with significant success. It was also staged in 1896 according to B. Gorin.

Therefore G.'s play "Shloimke sharlatan" had an important scenic success, which also -- according to B. Gorin -- was staged in 1896.

The personnel from the premiere -- according to Leon Blank -- consisted of:

Beinush Wasserstein
Ester Rokhl
Simon Muzlin
  Morris Moshkovitch
Sonia Nadolsky
Sara Adler
Avraham Fishkind
Jacob P. Adler -- David Kessler
William Konrad
Mary Wilensky
David Kessler -- Jacob P. Adler

The play is -- according to David Pinski -- an adaptation of Ostrovsky's "Biednost nye porok" ["Orimkeyt iz nit keyn shand (Poverty is not a Disgrace)?"], and has been, with Kessler in the title role, a yearlong success in the Yiddish theatre in America.

Without the knowledge of the author, the play was brought to Europe and was associated with the local repertoire until the present day.

In 1913, during David Kessler's guest-appearance in Poland, where he also performed in "Shloimke sharlatan," Noah Prilutski wrote about the play: "The author does not show us the levels of decline in their internal establishment.  ... We also do not see the internal struggle that is needed -- Anywhere that can accompany such a stormy life."

In 1912 the play, without the consent of the author, was published in Lemberg under the name "Der sharlatan, a lebensbild (life portrait) in 4 acts by Jacob Gordin" [44 pp., 16°].

In 1896 through the "Russian Student Union," there was staged G.'s one-acter "Der rusisher amerikanisher fareyn mit breyte idealn" [printed in G.'s one-acters].

In 1897 by Boris Thomashefsky, G.'s play "Devorah'le meyukheses (Little Devorah, with her Excellent Pedigree [?])" was staged.

About the production of this play, Bessie Thomashefsky recalls in her memoirs: "We staged "Devorah'le meyukheses" and we had an immense success. My husband had strongly excelled as "Shimshon Eyzenshtohl, the Koval," and he entire Yiddish press together with the intelligentsia recognized my husband then as a first-class actor ... I was overjoyed that I and my husband had fallen in love with one of Gordin's plays. It was the beginning of a race, a rush between our star winning a role in one of Gordin's plays. It was the Gordin period and every star wanted to excel in one of his plays."

"Devorah'le meyukheses" only played for a short time on the stage in America before it became, very swiftly, part of the repertoire of Yiddish theatre throughout the world.

According to David Pinski, this play was adapted from Ostrovsky's "No One is Born in Sin or Poverty." The play, without the knowledge of the author, was advertised in Warsaw in 1907 as: "Devorah'le meyukheses, a life portrait in four acts by J. Gordin."

About this chaotic news release of his play, Gordin complained in a letter written on 5 May 1907 to one of his friends, Rosenblum (printed in "Moment" magazine). "Your Warsaw correspondents were typical 'Americans.' They certainly forgot to ask my permission before they printed any of my plays. For this I forgive them. They crippled and obliterated me. "Di brider luria" (The Brothers Lurie) and "kenig lir" (King Lear) made my sick. It is a shame! They don't have any correct copies of my original renditions. Ghost writers are rewriting the plays by heart. To say it more succinctly, all of these songs are not mine -- they are Goldfaden's and Latayner's), and what's more they threw them out. They are, however, printed in Russia under my name. With great pleasure, I would give the writers, the correct prose. But these so-called writers ignore me completely. I would have liked to write a protest in the Russian-Yiddish newspapers, however, I postponed this for a later time. However you know very well, my dear friend Rosenblum! If you'd like to do an innocent Jew a true favor, write a few of these lines in my name and place them in the newspapers with my intentions about the dishonest treatment from these correspondents."

In 1897, there was, according to B. Gorin, a presentation of Gordin's translation of Lessing's "Nossen HaKhochem" (Nathan the Wise). It was almost immediately removed from the stage and was not printed; also Gordin's "Reizele, or, Zelig Itzik's Klezmer" (an adaptation of Schiller's "Kabala and Love") were staged.

The most significant play from that year was Gordin's "Historishe Drama in 4 Akten -- "(A Historic Drama in Four Acts) and "Di vilna printsesen, oder, Medea's Yugent" (The Vilna Princess, or, Medea's Youth"). Gordin wrote Grillparzer's "Medea" specifically for Keni Lipzin, after the success of his translation of Grillparzer's Medea." In 1898 with a forward by M. Bukansky, it was published in New York with this notation: "Printed, exactly in accordance with the text from its (Lipzin's) repertoire."

"Medea's Yungent" according to Penny Wadish Epstein, was staged in Europe and in America although, the play did not have long runs.

Leon Kobrin tells us that at the time of Gordin's lecture for the Russian Social Democrats. a one-time Russian officer openly admitted to Gordin why he gave lectures about Moliere, Ibsen and Shakespeare, but nothing about the Yiddish theatre. As a result, in that same year, (1897) they founded the "The Free Yiddish People's Theatre" with the aim to work towards an improved Yiddish stage and to fight against low-brow (shund) productions in the Yiddish theatre. Gordin stepped in as a member and almost immediately became the breathing soul of the organization. He delivered lectures, not only in the theatre, but also in the Educational Alliance. There he became one of the major teachers and supporters of the institute with his time and money.

Speaking on the same matter, Ab. Cahan tells us: "An "Educational Alliance" league was created, an organization to conduct evening classes and evening lectures for the workers. Gordin was the heart of the organization. He collected money for it and attracted the very best teachers and lecturers. He held benefit plays and gatherings. A large group of his supporters was active on its behalf. This group and the executive committee of the league were one and the same. This caused anger among the membership, and of all of them towards Gordin.

Leon Kobrin writes in his memoirs that regarding Gordin's influence upon this group." ... It is not an accident that in the circle of Russian Jewish intelligentsia his influence was very great. Under the strong will of the 'born leader', he from the people around him. He attracted followers from among the people he was surrounded by. Others were drawn from the ethos of the "born teachers." He was able to work with and to influence them.   ... The American born intellectuals, in every case comprising the majority, were the most educated. Gordin, completely controlled them. He gave a lecture and the crème de la crème of the Yiddish intelligentsia came to hear him. He really was not a particularly good speaker. On the Yiddish street there were far better speakers. Whatever he said to those that heard him they had already heard or read. Perhaps they had come across it in their own readings, or delivered in lectures -- and so they heard him out feigning the greatest interest. Since Gordin was speaking, even though what he's said offered absolutely nothing new, it received a new importance. The Russian-Jewish intellectuals were far removed from the Yiddish theatre. At the same time the Yiddish folk-stage was growing, and Gordin stood in the midst of it. So the Russian-Yiddish intellectuals followed him. Even the non-Jew Stoleshnikoff was one of his adherents. And Yiddish theatre suddenly became a ideal for them. Afterwards, Gordin left the 'Free Yiddish Folks-Theatre,' and along with him the entire intellectual community. The American-born Jewish intellectuals had simply bowed down to him.  ... As he sat there among them, he seemed to resemble an apostle from biblical times in his circle of students and admirers."

The reputation of the actor (says Keni Lipzin) began to fade over time, due to his dramas. Not too many of his plays could be mounted, so they now had an opportunity to stage the lesser plays, which were very popular. These attracted everyone's attention. Slowly, slowly they put together a small repertoire. This victory was a byproduct: its name was securely bound up with Gordin's dramas. Gordin now entered the most important episode in his creativity. At this time the superior dramas had not yet spread out roots on the stage. Staging a play was dependent upon the financial interests of the box office. They were not expecting to earn much money from the more intellectual productions. Such  pleasures did not bring about any special happiness. ... Gordin was pushed aside, behind the curtains so to speak. He was seldom seen on the stage. At this time New York gained two radical newspapers. He was brought in as a full-time worker to one of these new papers. It was the "Forward." There he wrote news, articles, sketches, earning ten or twelve dollars a week.

Gordin would have been completely left out of the Yiddish stage by the actors, as B. Gorin tells us, it would not have been possible to include him entirely, so that the first and last plays of the season was taken from his loftier repertoire: this was evident at the beginning and the end of each season. The other plays they mounted didn't have many fans. The professional writers simply gave up trying to stage their plays. The actors called these end of the season plays "honorific plays."

The right of possession at the start and finish of the season -- says B. Gorin, belonged to Jacob Gordin, and this was a done deed. This was all that remained from his earlier activity on the stage."

On 19 August 1898 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged G.'s "lebensbild (life portrait) in four acts -- The Jewish Queen Lear, or Mirele Efros" (music by Yarikhovsky) with the following personnel:

Mirele Efros
R' Shalmon
Nakhumitze Chana Devorah's
Chana Devorah
  Keni Lipzin
David Kessler
Samuel Tobias
Mary Epstein
Morris Moshkovitch
Samuel Tornberg
Mary Wilensky
Dina Feinman
Celia Feinman

In the span of the performances, the popular play was known under the name of "Mirele Efros."

B. Gorin writes: "A new epoch in his creation begins with 'Mirele Efros.' The foundation of 'Mirele Efros' is the same as for 'Yiddish King Lear.' Both were based on Shakespeare's famous tragedy, but how great is the jump from 'Lear' to 'Mirele Efros.' In 'Lear,' we see how the author was afraid to take a step alone, and he captures all the while for Shakespeare's pole. But in the play "Mirele Efros" Gordin stands firmly on his own two feet. The actions, the personnel, had no connection to Shakespeare's tragedies. The play was entirely his. In "Mirele Efros" Gordin found his way. Instead of feeling satisfied with dramas that dealt with unconnected dramatic occurrences, they now were based upon a connection with each other. Now more than ever, he dealt with the psychological side of his action. In other words, instead of grouping together dramatic encounters there now appeared a development of actions. By doing this he lifted himself to a higher level of art. In future dramas he adopted this higher form."

Ab. Cahan wrote about this play: "In "Mirele Efros" Gordin used his best talent. This was, possibly due to his now possessing a clear, definitive dramatic plan. The natural, simple, rousing, dialogue can now be called by the name "literature," and now naturally grows with each scene. The scenes now grew naturally from a larger plan. The result was that with all of its shortcoming "Mirele Efros," is a play which rightfully earned its brilliant success. It has endured for so many years. ... Overall it is a piece that is very exciting on the stage (exciting in the best sense of that word), and which in its written form gives the impression of something that stands halfway between vulgarity and good literature. Y.L. Peretz also emphasized this when he wrote about Gordin."

Dr. Mukdoni wrote: "The best of Gordin's drama -- is completely filled with the gray mist of bourgeois vocabulary and stems from a bourgeois point of view."

Z. Kornblit in "The Dramatic Art" wrote: " 'Mirele Efros'," Jacob Gordin's 'King Lear,' has only one central figure. All of the action is concerned with Mirele. ... The fundamental idea of 'Mirele Efros' is the same as in 'King Lear.' It is expressed with skillful technique, and with artistic and assured dramatic talent. It depicts an artistic picture of Jewish life in Russia. This was the time when the Haskalah (Enlightenment) movement had breached the fortresses of the so called "idealistic traditional life" (the dominance of the synagogue and of the rabbis). It invaded real life, and thus became a caricature of the Haskalah movement. Jacob Gordin took nothing from Shakespeare ... In Gordin the theme penetrated into an entirely new idea not found in Shakespeare."

Similarly, David Pinski wrote: "First of all, in "Mirele Efros," Gordin successfully brought forth a leading character. He doesn't bring her onto the stage in a normal manner. He presents her to us under impossible conditions. He does this by introducing a clown, a happy figure in this bit. In doing this he imitates Goldfaden's methods. However, immediately we forget about the clown. The play rises above this. The action increases from one act to another. The facts become stronger and stronger, Mirele grows before our eyes." The theme of "Mirele Efros" was very timely. The title role brought forward the Yiddish stage-artist, the actress Keni Lipzin, had earned the only right to appear in this play. The actor Tornberg, in this play, had his first long-earned success."

Approximately in 1905 the play "Mirele Efros" was brought to Europe. At first it was presented in Russia, with Miriam Trilling in the title role. However, "Mirele Efros" immediately became the crown role of Ester Rokhl Kaminska.

Regarding a presentation of "Mirele Efros" in Petersburg, Noah Prilutski wrote:

" ... Mirele Efros -- is the deep literary prototype in which the artist, the magnificent expert of Jewish lifestyles, gave a form to "Brindele kozak." It is the gem of the art. Seldom is such a clean, refined, spiritual, aristocratic tapestry woven before our eyes. Only ancient nations could produce such beautiful, deeply human spirituality ... National-Yiddish aspirations are illustrated according to the spirit it expressed in "Mirele Efros."  It is the exterior accessory to her life and activity, a characteristic representative of a certain period in our way of life.  She incorporates the most beautiful patterns of the old ways of Jewish life in Russia. From this offering, which has almost passed in our time, only to resurrect on a death bed somewhere in a faraway corner of the world."

In 1908 a Ukrainian troupe presented "Mirele Efros" in Ukrainian (Directed by Zacharov, role of Mirele was played by Mirskaya).

According to J. Mestel, in those years the play was also performed in Ukrainian in Stadnik's troupe in Lemberg (with Professor Stadnik in the title role).

On 22 October 1921 "Mirele Efros" in the Hebrew translation by Ben-Azriel (Ben-Zion Yedidiyah) was staged in Jerusalem in the Zion Theatre.

Around February 1927 "Mirele Efros" was produced in Hungarian in Munkacz.

In June 1929 Mark Arnshteyn directed his reedited version of "Mirele Efros" in Polish under the name "Mirele." This presentation was a big success and was immediately staged by many other Polish troupes throughout country.

On 10 March 1930 "Mirele Efros" was produced in the State Theatre in Rome -- in Italian (with the Italian Jewish actress Sonia (or Tanya) Pavlova in the title role.

Circa 1912 in Russia, "Mirele Efros" was made into a film with the following personnel:

         Mirele Efros -- Ester Rokhl Kaminska
         Yosele -- Julius Adler
         Shalmon -- Avraham Yitskhok Kaminski
         Sheindele -- Regina Kaminska
         Shloimele -- Ida Kaminska
         Chana Devorah's Nuchemce  -- (Gershon) Weissman
         Chana Devorah -- Yermalina Weissman.

In 1898 the play was published in New York and lasted through several editions. In the anniversary edition of 1901, also there was printed the play by M. Winchevsky a prologue in programs, in which there was a characteristic of Gordin's creation.

In 1913 the play was reprinted in Warsaw.

In 1909 "Mirele Efros" was printed in a Russian translation in the journal "Teater i Iskustvo" [published in a separate edition by T. Heilikman], and it was staged with success on the Russian stage.

In 1910 "Mirele Efros" was published in Kiev in the Ukrainian translation by Sh. Poloner.

In 1919 in Munich, there was published a German translation of "Mirele Efros" (translated by Alexander Eliasberg).

The Hebrew Publishing Company in New York it was published together with the music for "The Wedding Dance" for "Mirele Efros," which was arranged by  J.M. Rumshinsky.

On 22 November 1898 Gordin's two-act play, "Der kises (The Crisis)," was presented by "amateurs" at a benefit production in honor of the socialist newspaper "Dos ovent-blat (The Evening Page)." Later it was published in his "One-Act Plays." This was rewritten due to the passage of time.

In that same year -- according to B. Gorin -- there was staged in New York through Adler, Gordin's play "Kapitan dreyfus" (Captain Dreyfus), which only lasted for a short time.

In 1899, there was -- according to B. Gorin -- staged G.'s adaptation of Octave Mirbeau's "Di shlekhte pastukher" [later published in Vilna in another translation under the name "Zhan un madlene (Jean and Madeleina"], and G.'s "Di yidishe geto (The Jewish Ghetto)" -- a local folks-piece" (adapted from Zangwill's "Kinder fun der geto (Children of the Ghetto)."

About "Di yidishe geto," Bessie Thomashefsky recalls in her memoirs: "Kobrin had then written a play for Kessler in the Thalia Theatre,  'The East Side Ghetto,' and the name 'ghetto' became very popular. We also had wanted his 'in market' (they had a viable commodity), and we had arranged [ordered] from Gordin a ghetto play. In time Gordin put together an entire play for us. We investigated which actors would be appropriate. Gordin sent us notes every few minutes written in 'prose.' Kobrin's 'East Side Ghetto' was a fantastic success. However, on our side, Gordin's "Ghetto" was a major failure (with drums and trumpets). We then decided to stage Kobrin's "Der farloyrener gan-eydn (Paradise Lost)." The play was an outrageous success. It was a sensation. In the theatrical world they began to whisper that Kobrin is now in competition with Gordin."

Soon afterwards, Thomashefsky staged G.'s "musical drama -- Dovid'l meshoyrer, oder Dos oybergerisene lied (David the Singer)."

The personnel for the premiere -- according to David Levenson, consisted of:

Pitsye Mngn
Freide Henye
Nachman Leib
Zakhariya Tsemakh
Rachmilik Bimbas
Shmuel Kvatsh
A young cantor
Count Bartsinsky
Peter Ivanov
  David Levenson
Paulina Edelstein
Boris Thomashefsky
Avraham Fishkind
Sara Adler
Samuel Tornberg
Leon Blank
Leibush Gold
Solomon Manne
Charles Nathanson
Samuel Greenberg
Sophia Karp

Bessie Thomashefsky tells in her memoirs about a play:

"The subject of 'Dovid'l Meshorer' (David the Musician) Gordin adapted from a true happening, which took place with the son of the world famous Cantor Nisi Belzer.

"Gordin worked on the story so well, really as only Gordin could. The play was a fantastic success."

However, the play did not last long on the stage. Later, it was illegally brought to Europe. It played there and evolved into "Dovid Meshorer -- A drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin, Przemysl."

About Gordin's creativity at that time, David Pinski wrote: "After 'Mirele Efros' Gordin became a renewed person, someone altogether different. It was as though "Mirele Efros" had removed a bad spell that was cast over his creative energy. All of a sudden he grew. He seemed to discover his true self. He found his way. He wrote and he rewrote ... (later Pinski mentioned actual plays that were created in this period). He wrote one play which possessed the spirit of a "shund writer" (coarse dramas). But now the coarse writer's work pops up accidentally, as though they had wandered in by mistake. As though they were resurrected. 

Gordin's income increased. B. Gorin noted this: "Several years ago, one hundred dollars for a play was not too bad a price. But 'Mirele Efros' caused the price to go much higher. After this, when Kessler placed three plays in one season with Gordin, the sum he received was one-thousand eight hundred dollars."

1899-1900 -- Gordin openly wrote a series of articles: "The Big World Drama."

Approximately, at the same time, through Jacob Adler, Gordin's play "Shlomo khokhem (Solomon the Wise)" was staged.

In 1899 in the Windsor Theatre they presented Kobrin's play "Mina," which had due to some competition been previously taken by the Union's "Free Yiddish Folks Stage." The play had been reworked by Gordin, and in his contract the salary and the name "Gordin" had to be included along with Kobrin. The play at the Windsor Theatre was advertised in this manner: "Mina, or, "Nora, from the Yiddish neighborhood," improved by Jacob Gordin, based upon an idea by Leon Kobrin."

This led to a heated argument between Kobrin and Gordin. In addition, the newspaper "Evening Leaf" came out against Gordin. B. Gorin wrote about this occurrence: "If Jacob Gordin put merely a hand to 'Mina', his work was not so important that it should have to be corrected and reproached. He showed Kobrin how important improvement and refinement can be to this piece. Gordin did write a fourth act. Gordin had never agreed to reveal himself from the beginning. The secrets of drama writing helped him to put this play on the stage. This proves that he should never take anything from a strange author. Therefore we must understand that the theatre did not want this information to be announced on their posters and in their programs. The actor had no obligation to the new writer, although the name Kobrin was already well known to the reader of the better literature in America."

Also Kobrin, who handled the incident that he detailed in his "memoirs," according to him, that G. at first his intention was not to issue "Mina" as his (G.'s) play.

G. had an important success with his play "Di shkhite (Die Schchitah) (The Slaughter)," which circa 1899 (16 October 1899 -- ed.) was staged in the Thalia Theatre, with the following personnel [according to J. Cone]:

Betsalel Rapoport
Sheine Henye
The "Deitschke"
Zisel Kroynes
Shmuel Yosel
  David Kessler
Ida Brie
Mary Wilensky
Morris Moshkovitch
Celia Gold
Sigmund Mogulesko
Bina Abramovitch
Keni Lipzin
Jacob Cone

David Pinski wrote about this play: " ... I would have sworn that the play 'Di shkhite (The Slaughter),' with its entire cast of Jewish rabbis, kosher meat slaughterers and learned men, was born with the strength of a goy (non-Jew). I find in it a scene by Ostrovsky's 'Nye tak zshivi kak khotshetkia.' ... I must wonder how Gordin came to incorporate the character of 'Bezalel Rappaport.' But I stop wondering when I recall that 'Bezalel Rappaport' is the son of the merchant 'Piotr.' Ostrovsky's drunken hero."

"Di shkhite" is fully owned by Keni Lipzin, a role that she played in America and which she possessed completely.

In 1907, Julius Adler brought the play to Poland. He staged it in Warsaw with the following character played by: ("Esterke" -- Ester Rokhl Kaminska, "Bezalel Rappaport" -- Avraham Yitskhok Kaminski, "Shmuel Yossel" -- Julius Adler.) Since that time it has remained in the repertoire of the Yiddish stage in Europe.

In 1908 "Di shkhite," without the knowledge of the author, was published in Warsaw.

In 1910 "Di shkhite" was presented in Russian in a translation by M. Fonberg. The translation was published immediately. It is also said that the play, immediately after that, was performed in Ukrainian.

Around 1925 "Di shkhite" was performed in Hebrew in Israel (called Palestine at that time).

In 1929, Mark Arnshteyn in his translation and editing presented "Di shkhite" on the Polish stage.

In the "Hebrew Publishing Company," there was published the "Trinklikh" (from "Di shkhite"), arranged by J. Rumshinsky.

The production of G.'s "Got, mentsh un tayvl (God, Man and Devil)" met with great great success, that arrived at the Thalia Theatre on 21 September 1900, with the following personnel:

Hershele Dubrovner
Leizer Badkhan
Khatzkel Drakhme
Uriel Mazik
  David Kessler
Mary Wilensky
Samuel Tornberg
Berta Kalich
Dina Feinman
Leon Blank
Sonia Nadolsky
Jacob Cone
Morris Moshkovitch

Louie Miller had in six articles in the "Forward" [25 September -- 5 October 1900] observed that he play was taken from "If" and "Poyst," and that "Di tsuzamenshtelung," which G. had made "toyg nit," due to the outbreak of a conflict between him and G.

Gorin noted that even the production failed, but the play remained as one of the very popular [ones] in the Yiddish theatre repertoire, and afterwards for a year it was performed by Kessler, who had his own rights for her [the play].

' In 'God, Man and Devil' -- remarked B. Gorin -- Morris Moshkovitch had a strong impression with his performance in the very important role of "Uriel Mazik." In the same role there also excelled Leon Blank in the small role of "Drakhme."

Fragment of G.'s Manuscript from the One-Acter "A tenh tsvishn man un froy" -- in the Possession of Joel Entin

David Pinski wrote about the play: "Only once did Gordin turn to the world of current problems, and that was in "Got, mentsh un tayvl" (God, Man and the Devil)."  ... The problem is huge, full of significance. Of all of Gordin's works till that time, this one play had the longest lasting impact. Due to his presenting the issue, it has found a place in world literature. Unfortunately the play could not correct the problem nor demonstrate how to correct it.  ... Certainly Gordin had created in "Got, mentsh un tayvl" exceptional episodic characters with a very successful demon. The leading character was the orthodox scribe, the pale shadowy creation of a one-eyed delusional imp.

Regarding the impact that the play had in those days, Ab. Cahan wrote in his memoirs: 'People started to compare Gordin with Ibsen. American drama did not stand at the same high position that it does today. As for plays with radical contents on Broadway, it was not even able to dream about it. When it came to questions about marriage and love on the English speaking stage, in those days they were forced to adhere to the strict puritanical beliefs. Everything had to conform to God's commandments. When Jewish college students from the Lower East Side told their professors about the advances that existed in the Yiddish theatre, where they would perform works that have an Ibsenian personality, and which possesses a high literary standard. This made an impression upon some of the professors. Students brought their professors to see Gordin's plays. Leon Kobrin also told us more about this matter.

B. Gorin tells us that with time the vulgar plays (shund theatre) no longer had any audiences. The better plays that attracted full houses and 'meritorious plays' suddenly became "bread-and-butter plays": The best plays became the "in-thing" and took over the stage (of the Thalia Theatre). The Yiddish theatre was situated on an irrefutable street, and at every step you were offended or encountered a drunk or a prostitute. All of them came from the same gutter. Suddenly these same streets were attracting people from among the higher American intellectuals.

Several famous American critics used the Yiddish theatre as an example for the American public. They were concerned that the American stage didn't place much importance on such earnest plays as was found in the Yiddish theatre.

Gordin himself was emboldened and used to -- according to L. Kobrin, speak up:  " ... The theatre is not a messy good-for-nothing place. Nor is it a place only to amuse yourself or to fool a silly public. It is also not a school where the important and the useful people are the teachers or the pedagogues. Nor is any theatre where my plays are performed ... "

Several years after the American production, Sigmund Feinman brought the play to Europe, and there it was produced. The play soon was taken into the Yiddish repertoire in Europe and has been performed up to the present day.

On 21 December 1928 in New York's Yiddish Art Theatre, there was staged a new adaptation of the play "Got, mentsh un tayvl (God, Man and Devil), a drama in three acts and four scenes, by Jacob Gordin, play revised and direction by Maurice Schwartz, scenery by Mordecai Gorelik, costumes by Maud and Cutler, music by Joseph Brody.

Around 1909 in Moscow, under the name "Satana," there was published "God, Man and Devil" in the Russian translation of Shoen(sp), and soon thereafter was staged on the Russian stage with great success. On 17 September 1910 this same translation was staged in New York's Manhattan Lyceum.

In 1912 a second Russian translation -- of T. Heilikman -- was published.

In 1908 the play was performed in Hebrew in Ufu (Yaffe?) ["Hershele" -- M. Gnesin, "Uriel Mazik" -- Teitelman].

Around 1910 "God, Man and Devil," under the name of "The Devil," was staged in Polish in Warsaw's small theatres, warmly received by the critics and by the public, and afterwards was performed by various other Polish troupes.

In 1907 the play, without the knowledge of the author, was published in Warsaw, and initially in 1911 was reprinted in the New York edition of G.'s dramas.

In 1906 in the Cologne German Yiddish weekly "Di velt," there was printed the play in an anonymous German translation under the name "Gelt."

In 1910 in Kiev the play was published in the Ukrainian translation by N. Liskoventsky.

In 1915 in Jerusalem, there was published the play in the Hebrew translation of R' Klunimus [K.L. Silman].

In New York there was published in English a translation of the prologue and the contents listing of the entire play.

In 1900 there was staged G.'s "Di shene Miryam un di gepeynikte (emek haarazim) (Beautiful Miriam and the Tormented One [Vale of cedars], an historical operetta."

The subject of this operetta, of which G. had not wanted to give his name, was taken from Fridberg's "Emek haarazim." It is G.'s only operetta.

The play had no other great successes in America. It also was ?? legally brought to Europe, where it already was performed with more success and was published in 1908 in Przemysl.

On 3 November 1900 in the People's Theatre, there was staged G.'s play "Der gaon (The Genius)" (Director -- B. Thomashefsky).

On 29 November 1900 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged G.'s play "Di shvueh, oder ronye di potshtarke (The Oath ...)," a musical drama in four acts, subject entnumen, music constituted by the author, arranged by Brody, staged  by David Kessler.

The personnel for the premiere consisted of:

Feige Rivtshe
  Keni Lipzin
Leon Blank
Celia Adler
David Kessler
Sabina Weinblatt
Samuel Tornberg
Sonia Nadolsky
Morris Moshkovitch
Hyman Meisel
F. Fridman

As the property right of Keni Lipzin, the play was only performed in America.

"Di shvue (The Oath)" was kept for a long time in the repertoire and was brought to Europe, where in 1910 it was staged [director Y.L. Peretz] with Minnie Gurewitz in the main role. Later there the main role was that of Miriam Trilling and Ester Rokhl Kaminska.

Noah Prilutski writes about the play: "The problem, the part, the scheme of the action and of the main figure, Even the important, dramatic moments, were taken by Gerhart Hauptmann, but Gordin had the borrowed lines, the pure bones of the thing, dressed in his own flesh and skin. The blood, the spirit of the piece was his. The human types were everyone from his own portrait gallery, the kiosk where he kept his plots -- according to his own custom. In 1912 the play, under the name of "Di shvue, a drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin" was published in Warsaw.

"Di shvue" also was performed on the Russian stage, and in 1912 was published in Odessa in the Russian translation of D. Rosenblit.

At the end of the 1899-1900 season in the Thalia Theatre, G.'s play "Safo (Sappho)" was staged [written for Berta Kalich] with the following personnel:

Matias Fingherhut
Boris Stavropolsky
Melekh Stempel
Apolon Zonenshine
Samuel Tseiner
  Sigmund Mogulesko
Bina Abramovitch
Sonia Nadolsky
Berta Kalich
Ida Groper-Brie
Elias Rothstein
Morris Moshkovitch
Mary Wilensky
Dina Feinman
David Kessler
Herman Meisel
Frances Adler

B. Gorin wrote about the performance: "At that time in the Thalia Theatre they presented at the opening of the season 'Got, mentsh un tayvl,' and at the end of the season 'Di yidishe safo (The Jewish Sappho).' Both plays were unsuccessful. However, if one gets used to the fact that 'high-class plays,' which are performed at the start or finish of a season, will not be successful. This is especially true when the 'bread-and-butter plays' during the middle of the season have also fallen like clumps of snow. But you aren't accustomed to pay such a high price for plays that aren't successful. And the directors began to talk among themselves that honor is really a good thing, but you can't allow yourself to sink into poverty because of it. But if we do became poor due to a few better plays or not, one thing is clear to see, that in them can be found the energy to make or break the reputation of an actor. 'The Jewish Sappho' immediately attracted the attention of the better audiences, to the young Berta Kalich. And so, for the first time, she had the opportunity to show herself in her full glory and to demonstrate that she possessed an extraordinary huge talent.  ... This then brought about the emergence in the theatre of a group of 'Gordinites.' They helped enormously to see that the Gordin-like dramas should take deeper roots on the stage.

Ab. Cahan in his series of critical articles about Gordin wrote:

"We don't accuse Gordin of really wanting the aforementioned idea (free love) to overtly twist and to exude itself in full color. His heart was in the right place; This kind of work -- to embody an idea in three dimensions -- is however, not his strongpoint. He does not see a living world with his mind; he doesn't hear the sound of reality; he doesn't fabricate his plays mechanically. Everything he does is thought through and through. His mind is a plumb line for unnaturalness, and for any idea that he is dealing with. Eventually the idea  becomes a mountain of ashes.

"Sappho," as the property right of Berta Kalich, has been performed by her for almost a year in America.

In 1907 Julius Adler brought the play to Poland, and here it was staged ["Sappho," under the name of "Saffo -- a drama in four acts" [with a foreword by H. Zolotarov] in G.'s collected dramas.

"Sappho" also with success was staged on the Russian stage, especially by the Korsh troupe, under the name "Dos odeser lebn." In 1911 the play under the name "Sarah fingerhut" (Sappho) was published in the Russian translation of A. Volkonsky. In 1912 "Sappho" under the name "Di yidishe saffo" was published in Odessa in the Russian translation of D. Rosenblit.

In October 1901 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged G.'s "Der momzer" (an adaptation of Victor Hugo's "Lucrezia Borgia"), and in November 1901 the play "America," under the pseudonym "Professor Jacobi in London" [G.'s pseudonym for sensational plays].

About the last play, B. Gorin writes: "Gordin has written a sensational garish piece "America," and it has been staged with the hope that now there will come the foolish world/audience, but also the non-saved."

Both plays remained on the stage for a short time, were never published, and no manuscript of them remains.

In 1901, through Mr. and Mrs. Thomashefsky, there was also staged G.'s one-acter "Er un zi" [published in his "One-Acters"].

The one-acter in September 1920 was staged in Eretz Yisrael in Hebrew.

In November 1901 in the Thalia Theatre, the ten-year anniversary of G.'s stage activity was celebrated. The opportunity among other things (?) also staged G.'s one-acter "Di tipn-galeree (The Gallery of Types)," which consisted of several heroes from his plays.

The one-acter was performed with the following personnel:

Master of Ceremonies
Yontel Shnorer
Sophia Fingerhut
Betsalel Raporport
  Leon Blank
Bernard Bernstein
Berta Kalich
Mary Wilensky
Morris Moshkovitch
Keni Lipzin
David Kessler

In honor of the improvements/changes, there was also published a special brochure.

"Di tipn-galere" after several times was performed in specially altered productions, and was published in a volume of G.'s "One-Acters."

In January 1902 "Di kreytser sonata (The Kreutzer Sonata)" was staged with the following personnel:

Rafael Friedlander
Efrim Fidler
  David Kessler
Fannie Greenberg
Berta Kalich
Shifra Zeitlin
Jacob Cone
Samuel Tornberg
Sonia Nadolsky
Morris Moshkovitch
Mary Wilensky
Bernard Bernstein

The play, which had great success, was specially written for Berta Kalich, although -- as she tells it in her memoirs -- that when she had at times had proposed that Gordin writes a play especially for her, he said with the declaration that he doesn't write specially for actors, but he writes for the stage.

About that, Bessie Thomashefsky writes in her memoirs:

 "We have made ourselves up and spoken with Gordin; he had made somewhat of a remark about Kalich's lovely hair and the Kalich calls to him:  -- Mister Gordin, write me somewhat of a role for my hair, you have heard of a writer Tolstoy? He had written a book, here there is a heroine who has beautiful long hair like mine, write me a role for my hair ...

"Gordin patted his black beard and with a sarcastic smile responded: Yes Madame, I have 'heard' about a writer named Tolstoy. "And Gordin wrote the 'Kreutzer Sonata for her."

David Pinski wrote about the play: "Gordin starts it off immediately, using the sharpest vocal tones. The first act suddenly reveals all the characters for us. It also works at the conclusion of the drama. ... to show us that it is authentic (meaning Ettie's character), which allows him to thrive and grow. To do this Gordin had to bring us new innovations and new actions. These innovations must eventually become much stronger. However, what we see as the play continues, is much weaker. The continuity after the beginning till the end was not carried out through motives and actions. Indeed, these became stronger and stronger with every new moment. Therefore the most important device for him was to tell a simple story and let the characters grow in comparison to the main figure.

"Kreutzer Sonata," as the property right of Berta Kalich, in America was performed almost always by her, and it remained as one of her important plays in Yiddish repertoire.

In 1907 Julius Adler brought the play to Poland, and there it was staged ["Ettie" -- Ester Rokhl Kaminska, "Friedlander" -- A. Y. Kaminski, "Greguar" -- Julius Adler, "Tsile" -- Amelia Adler], and since then it has remained in the repertoire of the Yiddish stage in Europe.

On 10 October 1904 the play was staged in English in Chicago with Blanche Walsh in the role of "Ettie," and in 1907 it was published in New York in the English translation of Langdon Mitchell.

In a letter to his friend Rosenblatt in Odessa, Gordin wrote: The last ("Kreutzer Sonata") was translated into English and was performed over almost all of America. On one side critics complained and cast it into the earth, but on the other side it was praised and extolled it to the heavens."

In 1924 an English version of the play was performed by Bertha Kalich. In a review from that time in "American Mercury," J.B. Nathan wrote (according to Ab. Cahan): "This play is a sorrowful, silly melodrama. In it we find characters who give the impression of cheapness. The situations seem to be machine-made. The entire play there is built around a net. An undertaking which, of course, is full of holes that surpasses mere imagination.

In 1907 "The Kreutzer Sonata" was published in New York, in 1908 it was reprinted in Warsaw, and in 1911 it was in G.'s collected dramas.

In 1912 the play was translated into Russian under the name "Za Okteanom," and soon thereafter it was staged with great success on the Russian stage.

In the first days of February 1902 [Bessie Thomashefsky in her memoirs git on ef"t: around 1899], in the People's Theatre, there was staged G.'s drama "Etz ha da'as (The Tree of Knowledge)," which according to David Pinski -- was build on Friedrich Hebbel's "Maria Magdalena."

"He had [Jacob P. Adler] -- related Bessie Thomashefsky -- staged Gordin's drama "Etz ha da'at (Tree of Knowledge)," and received much praise for his acting as "Mozi Stoliar," but the play never had a great financial success."

The play soon was out of the repertoire, and also never was published.

In 1912, through Boaz Yungvitz, it was staged in Warsaw.

Noakh Prilutski writes about the basis of this offering: "Eyts hada'as (Tree of Knowledge)" is the type of Yiddish "The Fruits of Education." The idea was not a new one. There was a presenter, just as in Tolstoy's familiar comedy.  ... For Gordin's posterity this was a new feature. ... The piece was intentionally one-sided -- and It looked very good on the stage." It too did not last too long. Gordin's other play, "Ida, oder, Dos kind oyfn tayvl's barg (Ida, or, The Child on Devil's Hill)," was staged on 27 February 1902. This play also was never published.

Says Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Then Adler brought (into the "People's" Theatre) Tolstoy's work, "Di makht fun finsternish (The Power of Darkness)," which was translated by Gordin. We were all covered in bouquets of praise, and real flowers were thrown at us gathered from people's gardens. The presentation of "Vlast T'mi" was a moral triumph for us the actors. People wrote from near and far commenting that we were true artists."

According to B. Gorin the play "The Finsternish in Russland" (The Darkness in Russia) or ("Dark Power") was presented first in 1905.

On 18 December 1902 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged Gordin's adaptation "Eygenem blut," in which G. was said to give his name.

The play was performed only for a short time, and never was printed and also nothing handwritten for it still exists. The contents of the play was given in the review in "The Theatre Journal and Family Friend," New York, 9, 1903.

According to B. Gorin in the same year (1902), there was also staged G.'s adaptation "Di shtifmame (The Stepmother)" [according to Michael Goldberg, the play was by Grilpartser "Faradina."]

In 1902, through Berta Kalich, there was staged for her benefit G.'s dramatic scene "Di vanzinke aktrise" [published in G.'s "One-Acters"].

G. had not merely written for the Yiddish theatre. "Among the people theatre business  who wanted to get into the theatre business -- Berta Kalich recalls in her memoirs that there was also something about Gordin. He had begun to look for opportunities to invest in real estate. "Spachner [Berta Kalich's husband] had Gordin give the opportunity, and he became a partner [to the Thalia Theatre]. He had to put together two new plays [a year], and after two or three translations, he began to undertake to do all of his own work (translations)."

In 1903 there was staged a scene ,"Nokh der shkhimh," was staged which G. had specially written in honor of a Mogulesko benefit.

On 12 October 1903 in the Thalia Theatre, G.'s play "Di yesoyme, oder, Khasye fun karatshekrak (The Petition, or Khasye from Karatshekrak)," was staged, with the following personnel:

Yoel Trakhtenberg
Matye Shtreykhl
  Morris Moshkovitch
Mary Epstein
David Kessler
Shifra Zeitlin
Jacob Katzman
Berta Kalich
Jacob Cone

The offering of the play, "Di yesoyme (The Orphan)," evoked a protest against Gordin from the conservative newspaper "Togenblatt." It considered him guilty of insulting Jewish family purity. As a result Gordin openly insulted the editors. Louie Miller began a strong attack in the "Forward" against the "Togenblatt." On 22 October, 1903 there was a mass protest endorsed by Miller, Dr. Kaspe and Dr. Zolotaroff against the "Togenblatt." On 30 October 1903, among the attackers against the "Togenblatt," were Jacob Gordin and Joseph Barondess.  In addition the Jewish socialists issued an edict to all progressive organizations to join their battle. Protesters from many other cities joined them by having their complaints printed in the "Forward."

About this play, Z. Kornblit wrote in his book, "The Dramatic Art": Gordin's "Khasye di yesoyme (Hasia the Orphan)" is both a realistic and a very good drama, although it has many shortcomings. The biggest of these shortcomings is that there is a large amount of rough coarseness in Hasia's wisdom and in her philosophical polemics."

"Di yesoyme" as the property right of Keni Lipzin, then was performed almost only by her [later the property right was given over to Jennie Goldstein], and until today remains in repertoire.

Later the play was brought to Europe under the name" Khashe di yesoyme," where it was taken into the repertoire.

About the offering of the play by the Fiszon troupe in Warsaw, Dr. Mukdoni wrote in his memoirs: " ... This was a straight forward piece.  This performance called for blood-curdling roles, demanding improved acting technique and a bit of diversion both in the sets and the costumes. ... From performances such as this, it would be possible to expand Yiddish theatre. True, the play was not refined. You can see the unrefined bits very clearly, but the actors portrayed marvelous characters, it was truly a group production ... "

In October 1920 in "Khasye di yesoyme (Chasia, the Orphan)," in a reworked format was staged. A. Loyter (alias M. Epstein) wrote: "This play was staged in the Jewish Ukrainian State Theatre in Krakow under the title "Koymenkerrer (Chimney Sweep)." ("Chasia" -- Vine, "Koymenkerrer" -- Cantor).

This play was also performed in Ukrainian, in Hebrew (19 July 1921 in a translation by Mislul in Jerusalem in the Jerusalem Theatre), and during the war (when Yiddish theatre was banned) -- with Yiddish actors in Russian.

In 1903 the play was published in New York, and in 1907 was reprinted in Warsaw.

In 1911 in the Vilna, there was published "Khasye," in the Russian translation of Y.Y. Yulin.

In 1903 -- according to B. Gorin -- also staged was G.'s translation of Gorky's "Mieshshanye (Mishstanya)" ["Kleynbirger"], and G.'s own play "Di varhayt (The Truth)," with the following personnel:

Avraham Gershon
Shayne Toibe
Herr Stenton
Frau Stenton
Kalmen Ziskind
Referee Nelson
  Sigmund Feinman
Annie Manne
Jacob Cone
Berta Kalich
Morris Moshkovitch
Nettie Tobias
Shifra Zeitlin
David Kessler
Jacob Katzman
Ida Groper-Brie
Lillie Feinman
Paulina Hoffman
Louie Heyman

The play, "Di varhayt (The Truth)," also did not last long on the American stage. The play was brought illegally to Europe. In 1908 it was staged in Przemysl. In 1909 it was presented under the name "Der emes (The Truth)."

Noah Prilutski considered the play as "Gordin's confessional," in which Gordin separated himself from his rationalistic concepts and his association with the founding of "The Biblical Brotherhood." At the first opportunity Prilutski wrote the following: "As a dramatic work 'Der emes' is weak. The rich psychological material -- was created with negligence.  ... The action is not highly polished.  ... the suffering of the melodrama and its form, which has no connection to the issues in the play -- is visible, artificial and was written for an American audience.  ... The language in 'Emes' gives a very bad impression.  ... It portrays coarse Jews -- who speak a very folksy, characteristic, robust, rough Yiddish. It is amazing how it came to the writer -- who till he came to America did not even know mamaloshn [native tongue, i.e. Yiddish] --In the play there is such a wealth of polished, robust, coarse Yiddish expressions and language. But when it comes to people, who doesn't even know Yiddish -- Christians or intellectual Jews -- Gordin doesn't know how to react to them. He has to create a special language for them. Should it be a dead language? That would lack the juicy qualities of an organic, live dialect. His Yiddish is strangely Germanized with outlandish words -- it's a wonder that the actors don't break their teeth ... "

In 1904 -- according to B. Gorin -- there was staged [through Kessler] G.'s musical drama "Di polishshim," which had never been handwritten, and never was published, and only G.'s translation "Roza berndt" (under the name "Di farloyrene") and "Zunen-oyfgang" -- both by G. Hauptmann.

In the same year in the Manhattan Lyceum, there was staged by members of the Educational League, G.'s one-acter, "Der gayst fun der geto (The Spirit of the Ghetto)" (printed in his "One-Acters").

On 2 September 1904 there was staged G.'s play, "Ta'ares-hamishpokhe (Family Purity)."

Ab. Cahan wrote in his memoirs: The two words "family purity" were often used by the "Togenblatt" in its attacks on him (Gordin). It accused him of predicating immorality and of burying the fundamentals of family purity. In the "Forward" once again over a period of time, after the previous year's battle (because of "Khasye di yesoyme"), that this "religious" scream is through and through hypocritical. Such phrases like "family purity hypocrisy" are encountered very often. Therefore it was announced that Gordin had written a play with the name "Family Purity." It was immediately understood that he was tearing away the hypocrisy of the false "sin purifiers." ... "Ta'ares-hamishpokhe" (family purity) is one of the weakest concepts that he had ever written about (until that time it was his weakest). About this matter, almost everyone had a unified interpretation. Apart from the usual mistakes in Gordin's plays, this play had exceptional errors as a theatrical piece. Similarly it was not a theatre piece, but a raw sermon. Instead of presenting "Family Purity" in theatrical staging and through dramatic events, his thoughts were presented through words, which he had placed in the mouths of the actors. Socialists applauded these words as important propaganda, but not as real speech from people in a drama. As a play this piece slowly died and finally collapsed. ... My least offensive, helpful and friendly printed criticism (Forward, 4 September 1904) in our small world of theatre led to a chain of stormy events and chaos.

Louie Miller's answer to Cahan's critique with an article "Kritik oyf kritik" in G.'s "Di dramatishe velt" (from 15 September 1904) -- "a monthly document of literature, critique and dramatic news, specially dedicated to the Yiddish theatre -- edited by Jacob Gordin." (For a monthly page, four-page large newspaper format, for the price of one cent, were published four volumes (15 July -- 16 October 1904) in the journal G. directed propaganda for his plays.

In the second volume he published four articles by Ab. Cahan and also attacked M. Baranov for his critique. He handled himself in the same manner, according to Ab. Cahan -- Pinski's for a critique.

His play "Ta'ares-hamishpokhe (Family Purity)" did not stay long on the stage and was never published.

In November 1904 in the Grand Theatre, there was staged G.'s play "Di emese kraft (The True Power)," with the following personnel:

Doctor Goldenveyzer
Shimshon Dovid Zakhary
Sarah Hinde
Feivel Pumpion
Avraham Hiutin
  David Kessler; Jacob P. Adler
Frances Adler
J. Greenberg
Fannie Greenberg
Peter Graf
Annie Manne
Berta Kalich; Sara Adler
David Kessler; Jacob P. Adler
Gustave Schacht

This play pushed to the front the actress Sonia Adler.

The play remained in the repertoire of the Yiddish stage in America, and several years later was brought and staged by Julius Adler to Europe ["Doctor Goldenveyzer" -- Julius Adler; "Fanye" -- Amelia Adler].

In 1911 "Der emes'e kraft (The True Power)" was published in America, and in 1912 in Odessa in the Russian translation of D. Rosenblit.

In 1905 in the Thalia Theatre, there was staged G.'s play "Der unbekanter (The Unknown)," with the following personnel:

Shmuel Ashkhenazi
Sophia Greenstein
Bernard Zilberman
Louis Karshunsky
Shloime Huts
The Unknown
The Woman
  Leon Blank
Keni Lipzin
Jacob Cone
Mary Wilensky
Jennie Goldstein
Mary Epstein
Shifra Zeitlin
Morris Moshkovitch
S. Tobias
Sigmund Mogulesko
Morris Moshkovitch
Mary Epstein

David Pinski wrote about the play, "The Unknown," with his name and Shlomo Hutze's philosophy -- are taken from Pshivishevsky's "Goldener Fluss (Golden Stream)"  ... (Leon Gottlieb tells us that Gordin had therefore used his [Gottlieb's] Yiddish translation of "The Golden Stream.") ... When he himself was theatre director in 1904 (1905) he wrote his "Unbakanter (The Unknown)" -- a play without a hero and lacking a main theme, an episodic piece. He wrote this play, not for a specific star, but for his own troupe. He was pleased to engage all of the stars of his troupe.  ... He did not develop based this upon real life, which he (Gordin) carried within himself. The actors always stand between him and the theme. We are able to see how Gordin empowers his educated background, not to add to his theme, only artistically, but in order to develop a certain role stage-wise. So he failed to defend the barricades. He didn't go into the depth of the soul of his people, but [rather] after the individuality of his actors.

The play in America remained for a long time in repertoire. In 1907 the play was brought by Julius Adler to Warsaw, and there by him there it was staged ["Berta" -- Ester Rokhl Kaminska, "Ida' -- Amelia Adler, "Bernard Zilberman" -- Avraham Yitskhok Kaminski, "Louis Karshunsky" -- Julius Adler], and since then it has remained in the repertoire of the Yiddish stage in Europe.

"Berta" was one of Ester Rokhl Kaminska's crowing roles.

"Der unbekanter" initially was published in New York in "Di internatsionale bibliotek (The International Library)," from there reprinted in Poland, and in 1911 again was reprinted in the New York general edition of Gordin's dramas.

"Der unbekanter" also was performed on the Russian stage and was published in Peterburg in Russian under the name "Libe un toyt."

Circa 1910, "Der unbekanter" was performed in Ukrainian in Eastern Galicia.

In a Kiev Ukrainian publishing house, the play in Ukrainian was anonymously published.

According to B. Gorin, in 1905 there was staged G.'s "Kenig un got (King and God), a satirical drama in five acts of every historical time," which soon was out of the repertory and never was published, and "Der meturef (The Worthless), oder, A mentsh fun an anderer velt (or a Person from Another World)," with the following personnel:

Mlkhial Garber
Israel Yakov
Sarah Chava
Avraham Rosenberg
Yerukhem Melamed
  Leon Blank
Madame Shoengold
Elias Rothstein
Jacob P. Adler
Peter Graf
Mary Wilensky
Madame Y. Abramson (Liza Einhorn)
[William] Konrad
Yona Ginzburg
Sara Adler
Gershon Rubin

The play was first written for Thomashefsky. Bessie discussed this in her memoirs: "The great honor given to me by the public and press for our acting in Zangwill's play awoke within us a desire to act in another good play and Thomashefsky immediately commissioned two plays from Gordin, one for himself and the other for me, and they were the famous play 'Der meturef (The Worthless)' and 'On a heym (Without a Home).' But he didn't buy them because Gordin wanted both money and [production credit?] which it didn't seem expedient to give away, when one could himself put together with empty spit 'Pintelekh, Neshomelekh and Pendelekh.' "

"The Worthless," with the right of possession of Jacob P. Adler, was performed almost exclusively by him and remained in his repertoire for a long time.. The play was later played by Jonah Ginsburg (in the role of "Ben Zion") during his tour through Europe and remained in the repertoire there.

"The Worthless" was published in New York in the International Library, in 1908 it was published in Przemysl, and in 1911 in New York in a collection of Gordin's dramas.

"The Worthless" was also performed in the Russian state. and in 1912 opened in Odessa in a Russian translation by D. Rosenblit.

In 1923 "The Worthless" appeared in Lemberg in a Hebrew translation by Israel Borekh.

According to B. Gorin, in 1906 Gordin's "Elisha ben Abuyah" premiered with the following personnel:

Elisha ben Abuyah
Rabbi Meir
Head of Yeshiva
Simeon Hnzir
Tuvia Habiuni
Abnimus Hgrdi
Antonius Servius
A Jew
  Jacob P. Adler
Mary Epstein
Mary Wilensky
Madame Shoengold
Elias Rothstein
Peter Graf
Y. Ginzburg
Leon Blank
Sara Adler
Adolf Shrage
[Willam] Konrad
Gershon Rubin

The production was a failure and played for only a week. A few years later Adler reworked it with illustrative music by Joseph Rumshinsky and had great success with it.

About "Elisha ben Abuyah" David Pinski wrote: "Gordin, however, took another already prepared work and created a weak copy of Uriel Acosta, or, even worse, repeated in a scarcely improved form his own trashy "Meyer Yuseforitsh." The play, with eygentum-rekht by Yankev P. Adler, was performed only by him in America and was also briefly performed on the Yiddish stage in Europe.

In 1909 "Elisha ben Abuyah" was performed in Jerusalem in its Hebrew translation by K.I. Silman. It was first published in New York in "The International Library" and thereafter was published in Poland and in 1911 in the New York edition of Gordin's dramas.

In 1912 "Elisha ben Abuyah" was performed in Odessa in a Russian translation by D. Rosenblit and in 1916 in Jerusalem in Hebrew, translated by Reb Klunimum (K.L. Silman). 

According to B. Gorin, later that same year (1906) Gordin's translation of Maxim Gorky's "The Children of the Sun" was produced, as well as his own play, "The Stranger," with the following cast [according to Bernard Kaner]:

Naftali Herts Levin
Pinye Starodub
Kalman Moshe
Sarah Henye
A Rabbi
  Jacob P. Adler
Sara Adler
Yona Ginzburg
Frances Adler
Leon Blank
Peter Graf
Mary Wilensky
Adolf Shrage

David Pinski writes about the play: "The Stranger," as Gordin himself intimated, grew out of Tennyson's "Enoch Arden." Gordin himself, however, assured in his letter to his friend Rosenblum: " 'The Stranger' is one of my original plays."

Characteristically, concerning Gordin's opinion of the play, is the speech he gave to the public during a performance of "The Stranger" [according to Leon Blank, as told to him by Leon Kobrin]: "I gave you a play, "Elisha ben Abuyah," which didn't please you and I liked it very much. So now I give you another play, "The Stranger," which pleases you greatly and pleases me not at all. Why do you run to such a foolish melodrama? What pleases you about it?" 

Actually "The Stranger" had no great success, although Adler particularly distinguished himself in it.

In 1907 according to B. Gorin, Gordin's play "On the Mountain" was produced with the following personnel:

Samuel Melkin (Shmuelik Zaverukhe)
Melekh Natan Torbe
Khayim Moshe Melkin
Bobe Sosye
Kalman Yitzhak Nakhamkus
Ngd Adm
Rukh Htbe
  Sh. Tabatshnikov (Tobias)
Nettie Tabatshnikov (Tobias)
Matilda Shrage
Keni Lipzin
Gustave Schacht
A. Giltman
Annie Manne
Morris Moshkovitch
Samuel Tornberg
Morris Moshkovitch
Nettie Tabatshnikov

David Pinski wrote concerning "On the Mountain": "Stillborn from his muse, pretentious, with a supposed importance in truth a wholly childish prologue ... it got no further than caricaturing a few of the New York bourgeoisie who were personally disagreeable to him."

The play didn't remain in the repertoire long and was never performed except in America. In 1911 the play appeared in New York among his collected dramas.

It appears that the string of failures in the theatre and the unfriendly reviews undermined Gordin's health. It's also possible it was thanks to being forgotten in America that Gordin decided to visit Europe, particularly Carlsbad.

Exactly at that time he received an invitation from his friend Rosenblum to come to Russia. He answered: "I don't understand what you mean by the word "touring." Shall I come with a troupe? That's too hard and too unfamiliar an undertaking for me. I talked to one of the actors -- a businessman should talk to them -- shall I come by myself? I'll be in Europe this summer (in Carlsbad), that's to say, I've called to buy a ship's ticket leaving New York on June 13 (1907). My acquaintances will be traveling on this ship -- I'm afraid to travel alone. Also, there's just a ninety percent chance that I shall travel. Besides that, one of our best actors will also be in Europe this summer, in England, Galicia etc. About myself, however, I must say: I am not yet any kind of American bourgeoisie ... I've put it off till later ... and I'm also no Russian. I don't know how I'll be able to come. But if I'm able to, I'll travel from Carlsbad to Odessa with pleasure and happiness."

That summer Gordin visited a few Western European countries and also Odessa. As a "foreign Jew" he was not allowed entry into Russia. Between 6 July – 7 December 1907 he published in "Di varhayt" a series of travelogues and a few plays on the Yiddish theatre.

Jacob Mestel, who'd often spent time with Gordin during his time in Lemberg, asserted that Gordin made an unusually imposing impression on Lemberg's literary-artistic circles, whether through his personality or his collegial amiability, and even more with his despotic nature around the Russian tea samovar tea in his hotel rooms.

Gordin's sensitive nature was a bit shocked when people dared to criticize his works, although he himself, in a speech to the audience in the Gimpel theatre, sharply criticized the directing and acting during the run of his "The Worthless" (worked up by the Lemberg intelligentsia with an American touring artist I. Ginsburg as Ben Zion). 

Around the time of his arrival a series of articles about him were published by Dr. Tsvi Shpitzer-Bikels in "Jewish Worker" and in the German-Jewish "Frayshtat" in Berlin (edited by Mordkhe Koyfmen).

On 23 August 1907 Gordin returned from Europe, and on 27 August in the Kalich Theatre, a large gathering in his honor was arranged at which he gave his impressions of Europe.

On 12 September 1907, at "Jacob Gordin's Literary Circle" in New York, Gordin held a meeting with the theme "Yiddish drama and the Yiddish stage," which on 15 September was published in "Di varhayt."

Gordin's last successful play was his "Without a Home," which debuted October 1907 at the Grand Theatre with the following cast:

R' Yakov Elkhonen
Abie Rivkin
Harry (Henekh)
Bessie Steinberg
Philip Weiss
Mrs. Hamilton
  Abraham Shapiro
Jacob P. Adler
Sara Adler
Bella Baker
Mary Wilensky
Morris Moshkovitch
Fannie Greenberg
Samuel Rosenstein
Madame Gold

David Pinski writes about it: "In 'Without a Home,' Gordin wanted to bring out the way American life hindered Jewish family life and undermined the long time Jewish home, and he told several broad and long stories among which the highest place was occupied by the history of a simple Jewish woman whose more modern/educated(?) husband becomes bored with her and falls in love with a more modern/educated girl. This is so American and Jewish as much as it is Russian, German, and French. And the fact is, the German Hauptmann dealt with the same theme seventeen years ago in his "Lonely People."

In his review in the Forward, Abe Cahan showed that the play was taken from his "Yekl the Yankee" and "The Neighbors" and this gave Gordin another opportunity to come out during the entr'actes of the performances and in "Di varhayt" with attacks against Cahan and the Forward.

Ab. Cahan writes about this: "Since I am the drama and literature critic at the Forward, I would write reviews of his (Gordin's) plays, but I never spoke about him personally. Malicious words, insults or offensive insinuations absolutely never came into my reviews. I also never wrote about him as a writer in general ... my review (of "Without a Home") was not a favorable one. It was written without the slightest insinuation of personal attack. Gordin answered it with a long article (In "Varhayt," 30 November 1907) the article was written "by antiphrasis." [use of words in a sense opposite to their proper meaning]. Everything apparently meant exactly its opposite. Until he broke down/dissected and dirtied every facet of my being, pressing into corners of my private life, as well as into my community activities."

The role of "Batsheva" in "Without a Home" became one of Sara Adler's crowning roles she often played it in America and Europe.

At first in 1913 "Without a Home" was first played in Poland by Ester Rokhl Kaminska and her troupe. Concerning the foundation of this production, Noah Prilutski wrote: "Without a Home -- the author knowingly wanted the title to be symbolic. Homelessness -- the characteristic of Jewish families living in America, of American life in general, this is also the essence of the whole of Jewish life ... there's a bit too much melodrama in the play ... the basic idea of the play is slightly muddled, vague: too much happens, too many threads cross, and this hinders the harmony of the whole, the unfurling of the main trail of the story. Generally, opportunistic events burst forth here and there. Several of them remind us of events in the author's previous dramas. One play was full of the earmarks of Jacob Gordin's best works. As always from the dying author of "Mirele Efros," we have another "life-worthy work." "On A heym (Without a Home)" is full of sincere bits of Jewish life in America. Finally, the piece possesses several time periods and offers living examples of North American types.

After the death of Ester Rokhl Kaminska, this play was removed from the repertoire and was only revived in 1920 with a presentation in the Vienna "Free People Folk Stage" (directed by Jacob Mestel, "Basheva" -- Rosa Ziegler).

In 1911 the play "On a heym" was published in New York in the edition of Jacob Gordin's dramas.

G.'s travels to Europe came to be published, not only in his travel articles, but also in a new play: "Goles galitsye," which was staged on 31 December 1907 in the Grand Theatre.

The personnel for the premiere [according to a manuscript of the play, which was found by Sholem Perlmutter in New York] -- according to Jacob Wexler -- consisted of:

R' Israelik
R' Moshe
R' Wolf
Moshe Prush
Shlomo Mkpir
Dr. Gutman
Ptkhiah Gershon
R' Khayim Grindus
First Gabai
  Jacob P. Adler
Sara Adler
Lazar Goldstein
Morris Moshkovitch
Samuel Rosenstein
Avraham Shapiro
Goldie Shapiro
Hyman Meisel
Adolf Shrage
Jacob Wexler
Gershon Rubin

During "Di varhayt," in which G. was a collaborator, [he] entered into the play enthusiastically, became torn down, and the play suffered a failure. Not wanting to give up, G. scored the play for his testimonial evening, announcing that he will during the evening fully speak about the struggle against the "Forward." However none of the public came, and the play was taken out of the repertoire.

"Di varhayt" then (in editorials and in the "voices of the people") accused Cahan, that he was equal to G.

As a reply to it, Ab. Cahan published in the "Forward" [1 February -- 31 May 1908] a series of articles [outlined in Cahan's book "In di mitele yorn," pp. 521-29], in which he analyzes G.'s plays ("Gordin's place as a Yiddish dramatic writer," "Jacob Gordin and Theatre Criticism," "Free Love and Free Criticism," "Prose and Phrase on the Yiddish Stage," "The People in Gordin's Plays," "What is an Original Work?," "Gordin's 'Sappho'," "Gordin's 'Mirele Efros'").

These articles had in their time evoked a huge interest in Yiddish America; they were the daily talk of the tens of thousands of Jewish theatre attendees.

Cahan's articles, as well as reprinted articles of G.'s adversaries in Europe, had evoked replies from G. and Winchevsky, as well as new "popular voices" in "Di varhayt." The conflict also continued with the actor Jacob P. Adler, who published a letter about G., in which he sharply responded.

Besides what Cahan had reprinted in the "Forward" [27 -- 31 March 1908], G.'s articles "Di groyse velt drame" (which was printed in "Di fraye gezelshaft," 1899-1900), khdi in a subsequent series of articles ["Forward," 1-11 April 1908] to show  that "Di groyse velt-drame," G. had taken from John Owen's ""The Five Great Skeptical Dramas of History" (London, 1896), and that almost all of G.'s articles about rhythm, which were printed in "Tsukunft" were taken from Karl Bucher.

It was voiced that such circumstances and relationships have not done the better drama any good, especially since the wider audience of theatre attendees had started to turn away from the better drama.

B. Gorin wrote about that period in his career: This was a bitter time for most important dramas. For two seasons Gordin wrote for Adler in the "Grand Theatre."  They staged his plays "Der meturef (The Madman)," "Elisha ben Abuyah," "Galicia," and a few others. Of these, a few failed with a loud bang. "Elisha ben Abuyah" barely held on for a week or two, and "Galicia" didn't even last one week. Between Adler and Gordin there were constant lawsuits. It hardly ever happened that they should have a season or two together and not go to court.  Gordin remained without a theatre for some time, even though he had already received a few thousand dollars for one of his plays. He felt, however, that he was losing the ground under his feet, and that his control of the theatre was growing weaker. He, himself, ascribed this to the national awakening of the Jewish people. At that time there began to grow the nationalistic thoughts among Jews (Zionism). His dramas were saturated with cosmopolitan spirit, and were already not filled with enthusiasm. Zionism was another thought that had begun in more radical circles. It is possible to a certain degree that this "waking-up" of nationalism was in opposition to his radical tendencies. His "Family Purity" evoked a sharp protest in the nationalistic circles against "Galicia" or "Elisha ben Abuyah." No one came. This was not the only disappointment. The ground started to melt under his feet. The same "Elisha ben Abuyah" several years later at the time of much God searching, achieved great success. Gordin began to lose his place on the stage because he now had large camps of new arrivals, immigrants who could not digest better dramas. The directors were tearing the hair out of their heads.

 ... The biggest slap went to the better dramas. These immigrants didn't care for them, right after the Kishinev pogroms. The same persecutions in Russia that in the 1880s had created a home in America for the Yiddish theatre, and from which it had from which it had suckled and attained such greatness by the 1920s, created the best dramas. In America it suffered a death stroke. After the Kishinev murders, those newcomers in America reached the highest level of migration. The greatest achievement of these migrants upon their arrival in America was not present in any theatre. When they finally started to catch their breath and regain their composure, they became curious to see a Yiddish presentation. They now came to the theatre in droves. The better plays and the higher sort of acting were not to their taste. They preferred crude pieces, and that kind of coarse acting that over a period of several decades were pushed onto the Yiddish stage. Even the cheapest sorts of plays were too lofty for them. These plays already had a certain luster, and this was not a match for them. These new theatre-goers had to have something that had a connection to the original Purim plays. Incidentally, around this time there appeared a new phenomenon, the "music halls."

Bessie Thomashefsky talks about this: In the "Thalia" Theatre they were playing both Gordin, Kessler with Lipzin, Kalich with Moshkovitch. and the actors at that time had gained great fame. Those of us in the "People's" Theatre had achieved opulence. None the less ... only the actors in the "Thalia" Theatre were sadly not appreciative that the great Gordin made them famous.  ... However, they quickly became jealous of our fame, and they threw artistry onto the garbage heaps.-- "God and man -- to the devil." The theatres started to deliver the goods: To Mr. Nobody, namely to the worthy audience.

According to B. Gorin, in 1908, after there was staged G.'s play "Di meshugenes in amerike, folksshtik," which soon was taken off the stage and never published.

Gorin wrote: "The last drama that Gordin wrote was called 'Dementia Americana.' This play was purchased by Kessler at an earlier time, but in the middle or the negotiations he grew frightened and developed regrets about the transaction. Gordin and Thomashefsky undertook to buy the play, but were unsure about how the audience would receive it. So they first played it out of town, and only after that they brought it to the 'People's' Theatre. The play was not well received, which only sharpened the depression of the 'reformer' (Gordin) about the Yiddish stage in the last days of his life. He was terribly sick. He was suffering from cancer and within half-a-year he died." Gorin remarked on this subject. He said that the failure of "Dementia Americana" was a signal that the Gordin's epoch of excellence in the Yiddish theatre had ended.

Bessie Thomashefsky tells in her memoirs about the offering: "We studied the play with great diligence, and especially we played it here in New York. We then traveled to a small town, Trenton, New Jersey for a 'try-out,' that is to say, make a general rehearsal for the public, We played for an audience that had paid for tickets. ... Prior to the presentation of 'American Dementia' in Trenton, New Jersey, Gordin and I went to a lunch room (small restaurant) to 'grab a bite.' simply for something to eat. Suddenly, as we're sitting and eating, Gordin became white like chalk. He started to feel nauseous and could not swallow his food. I became very frightened till he felt a bit better and was able to catch his breath. He told me that this attack was a frequent visitor for him. I asked him to describe his pain. ... Gordin then became very nervous, just before we had to perform in 'Dementia.' I asked him why he was so nervous. This, after all, was not his first play that we're staging. Gordin, in his usual manner, stroked his gray beard, and with a mysterious sadness he answered me: 'This is not my first play. I'm afraid, Bessie, that this is my last!' "

Boris Thomashefsky, who directed the play, tells us about that in his memoirs: "Gordin, in that work, 'Dementia Americana,' set off a great boom (inflated prices) in real estate and houses that, at that time, was set off in Brownsville, East New York, Bronx and Brooklyn ... This play did not have the desired approval yet. I had a lot of those who were confused in the sickness of real estate. They came to the theatre, and if it wasn't them, it was their children, their relatives. Gordin, with his play 'Dementia Americana,' laughed from their wounds and reminded us of things that they were looking to forget and to bury. I tried all theatrical means to make the play succeed. He didn't help me. I received many letters of protest and requests to close down the play. Jacob Gordin once again was embarrassed that one of his plays should be closed down, and he influenced me that the play was incorrect in saying that the theatre should operate on someone else's feeling, and that 'Dementia Americana,' which was so well directed and so well acted should be closed down. ... with Jacob Gordin I made peace, with the condition that he should no long interfere with the direction of the play. I directed the play. Jacob Gordin came on opening night that performance exactly like an unfamiliar theatre customer. He, along with his family sat down in loge and enjoyed his play. In the third act Jacob Gordin was brought out with heartfelt applause. Jacob Gordin thanked the audience and me for the direction, and expressed that of all his plays that he directed in New York no other play was so realistically directed and so well performed. Jacob Gordin had a short-lived pleasure from the play, 'Dementia Americana.' which he considered to be his very best work (?), for his pleasure was short-lived when he came into my dressing room. His entire body was vibrating. He lied down on the same couch that Avraham Goldfaden once lied in and said to me:

-- Thomashefsky, I don't feel well. I  have a fever, I'm feeling hot and cold. Perhaps I'll also feel better if I lie down a little.

-- Perhaps I should cover you with my blanket?

I covered Jacob Gordin snuggly.

-- Perhaps a glass of tea with rum? I will extinguish the electric, and you'll rest yourself quietly. After the third act I'll come for you. I did the same with Avraham Goldfaden.

-- And he died?!

-- When Jacob Gordin heard this he screamed out.

-- Does that mean that you want to do the same with me? I don't want to die. I have a home with small children.

-- He finished with several Russian blessings ...

"Several days later Jacob Gordin died."

M. Winchevsky, Gordin's closest friend. recalls about Gordin's last days. A day or two before May 27 he was a lot cheerier at times. He still had quiet, almost hopeful moments."

For a short time, G. laid in the Beth Israel Hospital, and on 10 June 1909 he passed away in his home in New York. According to Winchevsky, his last words were: "Finita la komedya."

Gordin's death evoked great sorrow among the Jewish population: "When Gordin died,'' -- wrote Leon Korbin -- hundreds of thousands of Jews cried for him. Such a funeral New York had never seen before. Only then did they realize who and what Gordin was, and how for the first time many the Jewish masses appreciated him."

On G.'s grave, in Washington Cemetery in New York,  was a gravestone, erected by G.'s family.

Soon after G.'s death, Moshe Leib Lilienblum in "Der fraynd," attacked G. for his direction, and belonged to "a biblical brotherhood." Noah Prilutski responded to the attack in "Unzer lebn" [reprinted in his book "Yiddish Theatre," Vol. I, pp. 98-101].

On 30 December 1910 in the "Thalia" Theatre they presented Gordin's play (apparently one that was left over), "Di Mume fun Varshe (The Auntie from Warsaw)." A melodrama in four acts, with music by Rumshinsky.

The melodrama was not performed for  a long time and never was published.

The publisher "Di internatsionale bibliothek" (published by A.M. Yevalenka)


Jacob Gordin's Gravestone

had in the beginning in 1908 told G.'s stories. Published, but only one volume that contained three reprints. In the book there was an introduction by the author, written on 10 May 1908.

In 1910 "The Hebrew Publishing Company" in New York, issued four volumes of "Ale shriftn fun yakov gordin," which contained besides G.'s sketches and stories, (in the third volume) [pp. 167-170]: an article "Eynige kritishe bemerkungen vegn H. Libin un H. Kobrin, (in the fourth volume): "Di groyse velt drame," and a large section: "Drama un dramaturgen."

In 1911 the circle of Jacob Gordin's friends decided to publish a number of Gordin's plays. There had been a benefit fundraiser like this several years earlier. The money raised was very helpful for Gordin in his last years. Two volumes were issued at that time. Volume I had an image of the author and included the following dramas: "Got, mentsh un tayvl," "Elisha ben Abuyah," "Der meturef," "Sappho," and "Oyf di berg" (with a foreword by Dr. H. Zolotaroff). In Volume 2 (with a photo of the author taken in 1894) they included the following dramas: "Mirele Efros" (with a prologue by M. Winchevsky), "Kreutzer sonata," "Di emese kraft," "Der unbakanter," and "On a heym." In both volumes, next to every play, details were given about the premiere of each play.

In 1907 "Der Tog" printed eight one-acters by Gordin (with an explanatory article written by his son Alexander), which were later produced in a separate edition called "One-Acters." In the foreword to them it was noted that Gordin allowed the majority of his one-acters, unedited manuscripts of or poor copies of them. J. Entin corrected the one –acters and one of them -- "Di voltetter fun der east side (The Woolgather of the East Side)" -- which he translated to Yiddish from the Russian original.

On 27 November 1918 Thomashefsky directed in his theatre Gordin's play, "Vilder kozakn, oder. Yidn un haidamaken, Malorusishen muzik fun J. Rumshinsky (Wild Cossacks, or, Jews and Haidamaks)." The play failed.

The subject of the play is explained in J. Entin's review (3 December 1918) in "Di varhayt." According to J. Entin, Gordin left a manuscript of another play, "Di kinder gayn (The Children are Going"), which was never staged. David Pinski wrote: "That's how the theatre circles make me attentive. Under the name 'Professor Jacobi' from London, Gordin wrote a bit 'Di geheymnise fun london (The Open Secret from London).' His pseudonym stems from his name, 'Yakov' (Jacob). If this is true I can't guarantee it.' About Gordin and his devotion there is much written in magazines and memoirs. However, there are only two special editions about Gordin."

In November 1901 in New York, in honor of the ten-year literary jubilee, there was published a "souvenir," which held biographical dates, a Hebrew poem honoring the anniversary of Itskhok Nafelbaum and articles from Dr. Ab. Kaspe, M. Winchevsky, M. Katz, Joel Entin, Dr. Kh. Zolotarov and M. Leontief.

In 1909 in New York there was published "A Day with Jacob Gordin -- experienced and written by Morris Winchevsky -- publisher M. Meizel" [112 pp., 16°].

In the foreword to the brochure, Winchevsky wrote: "I have decided to write about him as a person, as a writer, in such a manner that my writing should carry the stamp: True -- as much as I am capable. I want to correct the format that the reader wants, that is to say, tell all that I have witnessed myself, and that which I lived through on that day when every step and every activity possessed in itself something about Gordin's tearful presence, and into the otherworld in which our forefathers existed.

The explanation of Gordin's timeliness in the Yiddish theatre and drama are very limited.

How Gordin understood his contribution can be seen in his article "How to Understand Drama": " ... The dramatic art is the strongest of all the art forms, and is the highest level of all forms of literature, because in it are unified all separations within literature. It is concentrated every aspect of that art. You don't need your educational expertise to explain what is happening. You see it with your own two eyes.  ... What is a drama composer? That is the person who can use all forms of literature and science in order to tell large and interesting contents of the persons life. ... choir and orchestra -- this is the heavenly music that comes with its sweet tones in order to help uncover the human subjective feelings, and to arouse the innermost feeling of the actor. Decorations -- this is the artist's skill with colors in order to recreate nature. To that which the human is connected.

... The depictions help you to see painted, historical pictures. The costumes, wigs and facial gestures -- this is the art of the portraitist to paint true types of life with their bodies and spirit revealed. The poses and manners of the actors -- that's sculpture. The higher plastic arts forms. ... A drama needs to be built upon a clean truth; it must pull out a certain idea and needs to present realistic types."

He complains therefore in a letter to a friend (according to Kalman Marmor): "Do you know what it is to write a drama when we must, or when we want to or don't want to? To attach oneself to the ability and shortness of the star? Do you know what it means to write a drama for an audience of which one wants realism and a second dramatics; a third -- a bit of burlesque. Yes, I  want to write my master work, but this will be when I will not need to sell it."

The attitude of the Jewish world and its critics towards him, can be found allegorically in a booklet (Judith -- the Jewish masses and "its daughter" -- The Art): She, Judith, has a very young, weak, extremely childish and not yet fully developed little daughter. The girl grew up without supervision. She wandered around in the garbage heaps and dressed in Gypsy attire. I lifted the child up and out of the filth. I removed her beggar's clothing and rags from her. I dressed her in proper dresses, such as children from good homes wear. I wiped her dirty chin and showed off her charm and talent to the world. I gave her many gifts. ... Perhaps these gifts were not expensive, but no better and no more precious gifts were given to her by anyone else. Instead of thankfulness I often heard insults and curses from her mother directed towards me. And despite all that I did for her, she often told me to put the old clothes and filthy rags back on to her daughter's body. None the less she remained my beloved. ... We (Judith and I) had, I think, nothing in common. Despite this we were one body and one soul. I think that she concerned herself very little with me, even though she was my beloved. I know: If I fell down, that the friends whom she acquired with almost no effort, after all she befriended them for pennies, would dance over my dead body. She would certainly remain indifferent. If I was to die today, she would forget me before the day is over ... "

B. Gorin reports: "A short time before Jacob Gordin's death, he and I chatted about the Yiddish theatre critics in Russia. He responded: 'They have not seen any of my works over there. That which they have seen has been jabbered so badly that even I don't recognize it.'  Gordin continued: 'I do not believe that anything could have caused a big difference. Apparently the stars granted themselves permission to do whatever they wanted with their work ... ' If Gordin would have approached the stage with the intention to reform it, nothing would have come of it. He would have found the gates of the theatre locked up. ... The intention of reform would have been far removed from him when he cast his eyes upon the stage. As a writer he found, in the theatre the only fitting occupation that could please him. This occupation not only delighted his spirit, but also chased away the poverty in his house. ... The reform arose because Jacob Gordin stood twenty heads higher than those that had directed drama in America before his arrival. Their plays lacked educational backgrounds, world acclaim, knowledge of the human condition and human knowledge. It by itself lacked determination and a worldly perspective. All of these qualities were found in his plays, and this had an important influence upon the development of the theatre.

"His first dramas had a good amount of literary and dramatic worth. He wrote with thick colors. The characters, though they were clearly developed, quickly became shadows more than living people. Altogether they were inferior works. They had no literary merit. But his first plays were able to demonstrate timely and clear visions of a new battle on the stage. ... To gain permission to enter the Yiddish theatre world it wasn't sufficient to come merely with a new idea and with some European concepts. The first and most important thing that he offered was the ability to raise the hearts of the theatre-goers. ... Gordin's accomplishments were to give comedy a human face, and to find permission for a song. This was an important reform on the stage. From one side this helped to chase amateurism from the stage. The comic types in Gordin's plays could now be played by a professional character actor. From the other side both the actors and the audience slowly began to think with a new mind-set; the stage is not chaos, and we can't, neither you nor me, step onto the stage and say or do or sing what the play does not demand. ... This very reform raised up the heart and soul of the stage and slowly directed it to a larger overthrow that later came about in the Yiddish theatre. ... In Gordin's plays the actors saw human roles and the opportunity to bring out a human portrayal upon the stage. The better actors were now able to endeavor to include in the character's life as much as was humanly possible. To demonstrate talent was now permitted, and here was the opening of a wider field for the actor to show what he can create. ... What's more these plays now showed the intellectual portion of the population and improved the esteem of the actor that followed directly after. Gordin looked all over for the ideal. He wanted to see a new improved order where not only the cold impersonal script, but also a warm heart ruled. He seldom awoke from his sleep in order to labor at the quiet labors of the philosopher. Most of all he remained standing at the level of the fighter. He fought against the bad, the low, and the corrupt that were ubiquitous. Wherever he encountered it, he spared no one. For him it was not enough to write a play that might amuse the audience. He wanted the audience to have something to think about when they exited the theatre. ... In his plays, neither in the earlier nor in the later plays, neither in the worst nor the best ones, he was never consistent. ... The mixture of the comic element with the dramatic reached the heart of the more sophisticated spectator. Even the comic can often leave a strong impression. Hence, nearly every person had his own philosophic expressions or aphorisms that never made complete sense. Gordin often made the road longer, in order to be able eventually to arrive with a smart word or expression. For him these expressions were one of the basic fundamentals of drama and without them he would not stir. The impression was as if Gordin was standing there behind the back of his heroes telling them his aphorisms. The actors and the average theatre-goer, amazingly, eagerly took hold of these wise expressions.

So just as Gordin created a miracle through his marvelous dramas in America, so over time it has long been accepted that aphorisms are a fundamental necessity in quality dramas.

His technique was also ancient. His dramas were full of comments 'apart,' or to the side, holding long monologues for the four walls that made a lasting impression upon the modern theatre goer." ... But the biggest and most important merit of Jacob Gordin came from the fact that he converted bedlam from the time that he first encountered the theatre in America into a temple of art, and artistic talent from within the artist, the great artist. He demonstrated it in the following manner: He never forgot that he wrote for the theatre with a living following. He always strove to create the best and the loftiest.

Similarly Kalman Marmor also spoke out: "In the very vulgar theatre, "YOU created US," and from this vulgar theatre Jacob Gordin brought in the newest innovations. On the stage he presented living people who dealt with modern problems and issues. As a culture carrier who was familiar with a raw immigration mass, Jacob Gordin was undertaking too much and carrying a very heavy load. He wanted to reform the theatre, and at the same time to reform the theater-goer. He used the theatre as a stage from which to consider the masses and to propagandize new ideas. Gordin also had in mind to educate the actors. He taught them to speak in a comprehensible and human language instead of the ignorant germanized, imaginary vocabulary. According to our up-to-date notions, and in Gordin's language, "it was very poor." In comparison to the language, which the majority of Yiddish writers in America used at that time, Gordin within his domain was a reformer. ... Jacob Gordin's influence upon his generation went far beyond the boundaries of the theatre. ... Jacob Gordin was one of the fertile individuals who stood as a postscript higher than their work. He was an important, great personality with a heart full of love."

David Pinski, in his book "Yiddish Drama," characterizes Gordin's creations in this manner: " ... He (Gordin) took up Goldfaden's plan and recipe and begins to write plays mixing together sincere thoughts, buffoonery and melody. In all respects, he improved nothing. ... But considering all of the others whom I have before my eyes -- and they're a very large and also important number -- he stands in clean perspective towering high over Goldfaden and others. He has something to tell us. The story alone, looking at how it was handled is already interesting. ... Gordin comes out from the standpoint of success on the Yiddish stage. He took up Goldfaden's plan and built his plays upon the basis of everyday Jewish life. However, at the same time, he added the 'human being' in the Yiddish theatre. He brought into the Yiddish drama the most important element of Jewish art. Almost always in every first act in his dramas we are made familiar with people who are alive and real, not those who were merely photographed so that they seem removed from reality. He wanted to see people who were full of life, real individuals, and not people who were photo copies. ... However his art is only half an art. He can present people but he cannot breathe life into them. He can unpack living people and place them before us as though they were alive, but in the course of his work he cannot reveal to us their endurances. He cannot uncover all of the foolishness in their souls. ... or search the innermost corners of his own artistic knowledge. Something must be added that is capable of freezing even more of his energy. ... Studying his plays both in book form and on the stage, we can immediately see that he does not write plays primarily, but rather he writes roles. It is as if he would have firsts of all wanted to bring forward his actors. Gordin wrote what the actors wanted to play. Usually he wrote his plays for specific 'stars,' and the content primarily revolved around one person. ... Gordin stretched his learned skills, not in order to reveal them artistically. He revealed a specific role from the perspective of the stage. Therefore he sometime falsified the character because he didn't involve himself with the depths of the soul of his characters. Moreover he searched for the individuality of each of  his actors."

At a time when Dr. Mukdoni tells us that "Peretz could not physically bear Gordin and could not finish reading all of his works for the theatre." We find Y.L. Peretz's point of view: ... "Gordin stands upon the border between 'vulgarity' (shund) and 'art'; It is closer to art, but is full of altogether melodramatic scenes that he somehow cannot abandon. At times he has a whiff of Shakespeare (the first two acts of 'Mirele Efros'). At time he gives off the aroma of a higher, more romantic musicality (the love act in 'Khasye di yesoyme [Hasia the Orphan].' He lacks, however, the measured writing. He never knows where and when to finish. Very often we have the impression that what we see should have some weight, but this too is missing. All evening long we feel that the everything was written in a hurry."

David Frischmann is even tougher in his critique: "The style of his works is: Either he takes something familiar, a world drama, a play, a song, a hamlet, and pulls it down in narrow, foolish Yiddish proportions. It becomes, in his hands, a story about a Jew with a prayer shawl, or a town rich man, or with a Yeshiva boy, and as a result he doesn't sense that in Faust or Hamlet, the story was uppermost. They possess big outrageous strokes that have natural measurements as compared to his narrow little stories with no dimensions. ... Mr. Gordin was prudently sent and understands prudence in scenic conventions, and he knows how to use these with good effects. These usually take the accustomed audience that has been suddenly exposed to a monologue with complicated Hebrew, or those who are repressed, or the rich, or against those who are the oppressed, or about freedom etc. It appears that on the stage there is a frightening story unfolding where hair and nails exchange places, and the audience is enthralled. ... Jacob Gordin is, however, not a writer. For him a  rigid story emerges full of monologues, and with special effect, and sometimes with interesting sharp prose .."

Similarly Dr. A. Mukdoni: "Gordin did not lift up either the Yiddish actors, nor the theatre-goers. He did not show the dazzled beauty, the corrupt charm: On the contrary he lowered himself to them, and he wrote whatever he thought that they demanded. In his original drama Gordin remained true to himself. His is a storekeeper's conception of the Jewish community, comprising people and suffering. The 'human being' is very clear as always allied with Gordin. He is, always consistent, so logical, that in the first act we can already predict the end.  The suffering, the pain, the joy embellishes Gordin's 'people,' just like wagons embellish the locomotive.

The entire purpose of humans being placed on this world is for them to speak a 'word.' This word in Gordin's dramas is the most important thing. This is the characteristic, in it lies the soul of humans. ... The human by himself is no problem. No other problems, social, ethical, exist. It is a world of love matches, and family life. ... Gordin wrote seventy dramas, and in all of them there are fewer than five people, a couple of landowners, a rabbi, a rabbi's wife, a few moldy teachers, a couple of shoemakers and tailors who hang around on the Yiddish stage, banal and dull. ... Gordin had twisted everything, including the Jewish family. This was the same family that created modern Jewish life."

Joel Entin appraised Gordin's activity quite differently: "The Yiddish stage found in Gordin its reformer, its innovator, its redeemer; Gordin found on the Yiddish stage his happiest calling. As a Russian author and theatre critic, it was most logical to go the traditions of the best Russian drama and critique. As a South Russian it was also natural to hear in his plays the echo of the distinguished, but small Russian stage. ... The model for Gordin's first creative years upon the Yiddish stage was the very important Russian drama writer, Ostrovsky. In his plays he sought effects and decorations, but he seldom turned to the small Russian folkways. ... In America Gordin reconstructed familiarity with the German classics of all kinds. He familiarized himself with the new German dramatists, and with the Scandinavian as well as with the French/Belgian dramatists. From all of Gordin's rich explorations of knowledge and pleasures, he enjoyed the Yiddish stage the most. ... Until Gordin's arrival our theatre was missing the basics of drama. There were dialogues and some measly scenery, but completely missing were the straight forward-passionate-fighting-volatile-scenery tgat could connect to the word 'dramatization.' There certainly weren't any figures that were so colorful that they should merit the name: 'character' or 'persona,' which was so finely depicted so that we could call them characters. There was also no source of light from the personage -- this means there was drama without psychology, humanity, family life without a soul. There was a lack of singing/acting in any scenes that arose out of the poetic, prophetic eye which sees every move, every gesture, and every colorful spot that could appear on the stage -- there was no D R A M A T I C  V I S I O N. ... Gordin gave us a long, long gallery. He searched for colorful, sculptural, bold, all-encompassing personas, and those who could represent the human conditions.

A long gallery: different nuances of a simple "Hai v'Kayam" (lives and exists). The earth digger who escaped the domestic despot, from the ordinary folk-woman, from the merchant class, from the intellectuals, from the young Jewish wife, from the muckraker in the big city; for them Gordin's dialogue possessed squirmy, touching, passionate dramatic rhythm, and its situation was afire with conflict, fluttering endurance, burning, stretching with the truth, full of dramatic momentum and the familiar Gordin's "types" and characters who lived a minimalistic life, their nature was to grow and expand themselves, constantly renewing themselves just as muscles become accustomed to pain ... Jacob Gordin is after all our very best known dramatist. He made literary mistakes. He was however, a person blessed by God, a dramatist. He was a maestro of deep theatre technique; he was very well received ,and he craftily realized the impact of drama ... Gordin understood and he caught on to the big secret of the situation which was the "innermost soul" of drama. ... This made him a dramatist. This also explained his following, which means, the world that he brought into the theatre ... He had a dramatic vision. ... He gave the Yiddish stage a healthy realistic life portrait. He gave the theatre a healthy fresh humor ... He brought forward new ideas and problems ... First of all Gordin enveloped Adler's most grandiose plans. He brought out the depth of Kessler's temperament and the truthfulness of Mrs. Adler. He refined Mogulesko and romantically threw a new light upon Mrs. Kalich and Mrs. Lipzin, and finally he renewed Tornberg's creations, as well as Moshkovitch and the Blanks."

Noah Prilutski had a similar affect upon the theatre in his book "Yiddish Theatre": " ... Jacob Gordin created the Yiddish drama. He was the first to bring to the Yiddish stage a true reflection of Jewish life through the formation of his characters, who were living people with their particular psychology, dramatic moments and their natural development in an honest environment. The theatre was for him more than a place for amusement. ... Jacob Gordin is the spiritual father of Yiddish dramatic artistry ... Jacob Gordin the spiritual father of our intellectual theatre audience ... Gordin wrote a great deal -- including some inferior works, but even they are worthy of the stage.

For him the stage was always in motion, always full, without long breaks that only existed because someone didn't know how to manage the plots. And the motion is not an artificial one, as it was in the days before Gordin ... Gordin may have included some intrigues and a wide variety of characters, but his web of plots are always clean, timely. ... with no jumble, no confusion, no chaos, all this is missing. ... Gordin's plays are almost without exception -- T-H-E-A-T-R-E -- pieces in the fullest meaning of the word. In this we can find the secret of his colossal following, both in America and in Russia. The greatest gift that Gordin gave the Yiddish stage is the fact that he was the first to introduce the broadest, most honest literature ... Besides Sholem Aleichem, Gordin was the one and only Yiddish author who eternalized our literature into the bourgeois spheres of the eighties and nineties of the previous century. ... He was the first of us who made such a deep impact on the psychology of the woman.

In order to understand Gordin the playwright and theatre innovator, we need to remember that Gordin was and remained a social agitator and moralist. In the theatre he saw a school for social exchanges; to raise up the society, and also those who wanted to use the theatre in order to spread his ideas ... We must look into his more than average literary talent after it was printed. Much of his work was very naturalistic, but not free from errors. It is not a matter of "so much" as "how much" did Gordin think up the most important theatrical moments and wrote plays not to be merely read but to be performed ...

... There are two reasons that forced him to be so exceptionally prolific. Firstly, he lived from his pen. ... without worries or concerns about his livelihood there was another motive, a higher one, a holier one, which gave the author of "Mirele Efros" the strength  and courage over such a long period to carry the yoke of slavery for the "ignorant" speculators and his awareness of his historical mission ... One strong person chased away the packs of wolves and jackals that lived upon the multitudes with their coarse, tasty and lowly instincts ... There were the talented fanatics who used to dig earth for years in a small village who all by themselves, after eighteen years self-employed suddenly appeared on the Yiddish stage in America ...

" ... The Yiddish theatre could not seem to give up Goldfaden's work for let us say, Ibsen. Neither the actors, nor the audiences were ready for this. For the evolution of our stage we needed to have our own dramatist, who should be both literary and a folksy writer. This eventually turned out to be Jacob Gordin."

"About Gordin's use of language M. Winchevsky wrote: "On the stage they spoke 'Taytch' (a Germanized form of Yiddish). No one in any Jewish home would speak in this manner -- but the 'Taytch' was a mishmash between Gordin's dialect used in his home, and Goldfaden's and Latayner's in their homes. Gordin was very strongly against this "Taytch". From his first days he began to struggle against it. However, the South Russian accented Yiddish used in the theatre, and his conflict with the Litvak Yiddish, used in the press could not be avoided. These discrepancies existed for a long time, and there were even some details that he fought with right up to his death. This alone would have been enough for him to declare this fact: his own spoken Yiddish was not so pure. ... Most importantly, it was he himself who had only just begun to write Yiddish literature, as often as he now did for the stage. In addition, it was only in the last years of his life that he began to have -- a little bit -- yes, a little bit -- not too much -- faith in the Yiddish language's literary renewal. Not believing in this it certainly made him appear foolish. The fact that someone could take Yiddish seriously, and should do so without laughing at himself when he tried to speak Yiddish grammatically, escaped him. Therefore, for him it was very more important that Zelig-Itzik the klezmer musician, Nachum Chanah Dvoyreh's the teacher, Hershele Dubrovner the scribe, Shloyme Hutz the tailor, Melekh Shtempel and Chaldek the peddlers, and all the other characters and personalities should speak a language that was fitting for each of them. But the Yiddish merchant, the doctor, the teacher, the apothecary, the musician and others similar semi-intelligent and well-educated people had to speak with the Vilna accent or as they spoke in his hometown, Elizavetgrad, and not with the South Russian accent. This, for him was an accusatory matter … "  What's more:

" ... Art for the sake of art is a concept that he never supported."

"When Gordin was still alive, Winchevsky wrote: "The truth is that even nowadays -- (and I'm not saying this in praise of, nor accusing anyone, but constructively as a fact) -- the author of the "Russian Jew" is himself a Jewish Russian. … Till this day he is still very Russian, as his colloquial speech even when he's speaking Yiddish demonstrates, ever since the days when he wrote for the Russian newspapers."

Ab. Cahan described Gordin in this manner: "When Gordin's name as a dramatist started to rise, so did his significance among the 'Russian colleague,' as we used to call ourselves. If he would have written plays in the old-fashioned manner, his theatrical career among his fellow Russian friends would not have created any interest. His work stood at a much higher level than that of the earlier Yiddish dramas. From all corners he was greeted as a talented person, as one who lifted up the Yiddish stage. And so his path among the intelligentsia also grew …...

He was the center of the Yiddish theatrical world. He was both popular and important. People wanted to meet him. Also, he was very capable of telling a good joke. In the company of friends he was a happy-go-lucky guy, a pleasant person, and in his home he was very hospitable. So, around him there collected a group of intellectuals: doctors, lawyers, dentists and business people. … Gordin as a playwright and as a devoted leader in the 'Educational League' had his followers among the Yiddish Socialist movement. … Even though he wasn't formally a Socialist, he was in every way one of the most important so-called radical immigrants in the Jewish milieu. This also had significant influence on his work. His 'Got, mentsh un tayvl (God, Man and the Devil),' 'Sappho,' 'Kreutzer Sonata,' 'Di varhayt (The Truth)'; all of these plays were full of merit for the masses. Scenes and complete acts that clarified radical ideas about marriage, love, economics and equality, religion, created great popularity for him among the socialists. … And without a doubt he had talent, humor, and he possessed exceptional understanding of the theatre. That is why many of our intellectuals thought of him as Ibsen, while his pride and his well-recognized impressionability garnered for him much hatred from among his Russian enemies. He also had among this same group many dear friends and this included new fans. Those who gathered around him exaggerated, without limits, the significance of his plays. He pointed this out much like a spoiled child. He was an honest man. He was never duplicitous and always possessed a bit of cunning. Regarding his explanation for his own talent he would speak with a stony openness. Speaking from the rostrum he would include himself among the great writers in world literature. ... Unions used to invite him to give lectures: More than once he chose for his theme his newest drama. He would tell them to introduce him as: 'Jacob Gordin, who will critique his last theatre piece.' In the actual lecture he would show how his latest play is better than Ibsen's best play. … I never believed that he ever thought about not mentioning his thinking about theatre as an art form. He used to speak using colorful idioms, phrases and expressions which he used to introduce his characters. This was a natural way for him to speak … or not? Who knows? Mainly we can say with very few words that this was not natural."

A more apologetic point-of-view is presented by Leon Kobrin: "Gordin was a strict teacher. He was a born-teacher and a sincere one too. ... I believe that armed only with this need to teach others can we understand the didactic characteristics of all his plays. The fact that all of the heroes in his plays philosophize and moralize. … Only Gordin's plays, for example, with all of their shortcomings, had one great virtue: They were theatre pieces. They filled the stage with mobility, fighting, collisions, catastrophes -- in short, where dramatic stage lives. Underlying Gordin's plays, seventy-five percent of his wise-cracks, aphorisms that were often terrible succeeded none the less."

M. Zeifert wrote in his "History of Yiddish Theatre": "… (Gordin's plays) were received with the greatest pleasure, but only by the intellectual class. Our intellectuals are very few, so much so that we cannot fill a theatre with them. His actors were frightened of small attendance, like the devil in all his breadth and length. This convinced the honorable Jacob Gordin (like many other of our literati), with the sacred insight, to throw his work overboard and to allow us to eradicate his later plays for example: 'Mohammad.' 'Di dray prinses (The Three Princes),' etc., in the same way as all the other plays from the Yiddish repertoire were eradicated. Characteristic of Gordin, all of his pen pals and Yiddish actors were drawn to his creations.

Dr. Mukdoni wrote: "Gordin's death hit the Yiddish theatre like thunder. It was a clear message in theatrical circles: The end. Now we must get rid of those paper crowns and the wooden swords. When I happened to talk to Yiddish actors about Gordin, they used to cry like small children who have lost their father, the provider. They couldn't believe, and simply did not allow themselves, to think that another person could take his place. Literature for them was called 'Gordin.' Theatre for them was called 'Gordin.' Everything was 'Gordin.' "

Regarding Ester Rokhl Kaminska's attraction to Gordin, Mukdoni wrote: "Jacob Gordin was her spiritual father, her highest spiritual being; Gordin lifted her up from the dust to fame. However, the selfsame Gordin poisoned her path to true theatre culture, and to the far away artistic horizons. He was the dramatic school master, who could offer his students elementary but without any zest, nor any excitement and lacking artistic anxiety . … For Ester Rokhl, Gordin was not only a dramatist, but her spirituality was drawn from his dramas. … Gordin was her Messiah. He was everything that was the highest, the best for her. He exceeded himself, but alas now he is deceased. ... Here she cries and begins to complain much like all old women mourn for a dead person: He was, after all, our father, our hero and our hope. Who did he leave to look after us; we are now poor lonely orphans, sheep without their shepherd!"

Mukdoni writes further in his "memoirs" (in the YIVO Archives):

"I later found out the most remarkable thing that you won’t find in any other theatre, namely -- Gordin as the standard. Every troupe either in Europe or in America played Gordin in the exact same version. Everywhere the same costumes, facial expressions, mannerisms and even intent could be seen. It was as though someone wanted to present the same example of how to perform Gordin and everyone blindly, like slaves, submitted. No one had the nerve to make the slightest changes, or to perform the roles differently, or to put on another coat or to make a new kind of motion. Later I saw that this petrified standard had become the greatest catastrophe for the development of the theatre. It became fixed and based on this Gordin standard and was incapable of freeing itself from him."

Leon Kobrin tells us: "... (Lipzin) screamed hysterically to Kessler: -- You’re not playing professor Horowitz’s play, Kessler! This is after all, Gordin’s prose, Kessler! Every word is sacred, no letter can be omitted, not a dot . ... A blessing on him, on his feet and on his head. Such a play, such a role he wrote for me!  One time I was right next to him, but I didn’t recognize him. He hadn’t left his house, not once in six weeks.  He just sat in his room and he wrote. His hair grew long, his face was unshaven, that’s how involved he was with his latest work ... "

As opposed to Kobrin’s critique of Gordin, Goldfaden’s appraisal was not recognizable: "What he (Gordin) did with my child!  He took my dearest child, my Yiddish child, my 'Benjamin' and converted him! My holy of holies, he made it impure. He is, after all, a missionary. How does he come to the Yiddish theatre?" In a similar tone Goldfaden once said to Julius Adler:" Do you know the difference between me and Gordin? I looked high and low for the best qualities to be found among Jews, especially family purity and brought it to the stage. He, Gordin, searched the Jews for all their worst traits like robbery, cheating, murder and swinish acts and brought these to the stage. He ruined the Jewish family."

The dramatist, Professor Horowitz -- tells Kobrin -- this is how Gordin’s creation came to be disclosed: -- "They scream Gordin! What is Gordin? Is he a dramatist? He has his actors speaking 'prose' ... on the stage such prose is really the language of the street. ... Do you hear? He put Hester Street (the Jewish shopping street in New York) on to the stage! Even a prince must speak his language on the stage! Do you hear? Gordin’s prose! ... Imagine if Gordin would stage 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' by Shakespeare, he would have even him speak Hester Street prose! "

"For his actors" -- says Leon Kobrin in his memoirs -- talking about how Horowitz referred to Gordin, "I found out later: he called him either 'The Black Jew' because Gordin had staged such a play and he himself looked black. ... Most important of all it was because with this play he had wanted people to know that Gordin had a black Jewish heart, and that he is also an anti-Semite; He called himself: 'Yakub Mikhailovitch Lamtamdreyles' because Gordin spoke Russian to his actors. When Adler spoke to him instead of 'Gordin' he called him: 'Yakub Mikhailovitch.' ... By the way, they say that the first to give him this name was the deceased David Kessler. More than once, I myself later heard, when Kessler was unhappy with Gordin, behind his back he called him 'Yakub Mikhailovitch Lamtamdreyles."

Jacob Adler wrote after Gordin’s death:

" ... When I together with my fellow actors screamed out only for Gordin, it didn’t mean that we denied the other few Yiddish dramatists some of them of the best kind, the modernists. No, but the fact remains he was the one and only who understood the Yiddish theatre-goer. Gordin gave the Yiddish stage a whole array of types taken from Jewish life, which the audience recognized. ... This afforded him an opportunity to slip into the Jewish world his own world outlook."

Bertha Kalich (in her "memoirs" in "Der tog" (30 September 1925) described Gordin in this way: "A warmth radiated out of him with every word which he spoke in his lovely, warm Yiddish. For me this was an echo from the Bible. He had thick black hair, and his beard grew quickly. His face made a strong characteristic impression upon me. He had a red, thick, lower lip. He had a pair of twinkling eyes which looked out from the stack of hair that lit up his face. Gordin drank tea the whole while we were together, and he spoke about the theatre. He was not afraid to pronounce the sharpest words about other people whom he didn’t like. He was not hesitant to call the most famous actor "payatz" (clown) if his acting was not what he had shown him. He respected no one, therefore he had the courage to embarrass even the very best actor if the other one had not performed as he was directed to play. One had to seriously take into account Gordin’s words. Gordin was a "critic" in the "kibbitzrenya" (a hangout for theatrical discussion, usually a restaurant), which the actors treated more seriously than they did the critics in the newspapers. He was the only person to whom everyone looked up to; he was also the only writer that a manager did not hesitate to insult.

Bessie Thomashefsky extended herself in her memoirs: "We really had great pleasure to be able to speak such prose as by Gordin. But the 'money guys," the true bosses of the theatre, which means that most significant share of the public did not come. ... Gordin had to work hard behind the scenes of the Yiddish theatre, fighting like a biblical prophet, both with the Jewish actors or with the Jewish audience. May both of them never be in need of a prophet."

About Gordin’s successors David Pinski wrote: "Gordin created a school. We must be envious of his adherents. People have now started to copy him. The imitators are however too weak and with less talent, and certainly with much less temperament. They do not come to his shoulders. This was a victory for him personally and he was proud that he had imitators. He was, so to speak, popular. His reign was over the Yiddish theatre and he, as the strongest person in his realm, could have become the dictator of the Yiddish stage."

Gordin’s name can be researched in many countries’ drama unions and libraries.

G.'s plays printed in Yiddish:

[1] Medea
A historical tragedy in four acts.
Adapted for the Yiddish stage by Jacob Gordin.
For the great tragic actress Madam K. Lipzin.
Printed exactly after the text of her repertoire
New York 1897.
[47 pp., 16°, with a foreword by M. Bukanski]

[1a] Varsha sreg [1913], printer "Universal" Leshna 21
Price 30 kopecs.
[45 pp., 16°, with small orthographic changes]

[2] Di vilde printsesin, oder, Medea's yugend
A historical drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin.
Especially written for Madam K. Lipzin
Printed exactly after the text of her repertoire
New York, printed by 'Yudishn teglikhn herald" 1898
[55 pp., 16°, with a foreword by M. Bukanski.]

[3] Mirele Efros
The Jewish Queen Lear
a lebensbild in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Especially written for Madam K. Lipzin
New York 1898 [48 pp., 12°]

[3a] Tsu ferkoyfn bay di hibru poblishing kompany
New York, 1911
[85 pp., 16°, mit di bilder fun mekhader un keni lipzin
in der rol un an hkdmh fun m. M. winchevsky]

[3b] Mirele Efros
A drama in four acts
(with Winchevsky's prologue, published in the anniversary edition, Vol. 2, New York, 1911, 73 pp., 16°)

[3c] Warsaw, Treg (1913)
(64 pp., 16°, with a scene from the author. New American
Text with small orthographic changes, without Wincevsky's introduction.)

[4] Gordin's Dramas
Di yesoyme
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
specially written for Madame K. Lipzin.
(New York, 1903, 47 pp., 12°)
Price 15 cents

[4a] Khashe di yesoyme
a drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Publishing house, the "Yudishe bine"
Warsaw Trs"z (1907)
(92 pp., 16°)

[5] Gordin's Dramas
Got mentsh un tayvl
drama in four acts with a prologue
The International Library
(New York) 1903 (102 pp., 16°)
(The publishing house remarks that this is in relationship to the author's fiftieth birthday, that he began to publish his play.)

[5a] Got, mentsh un tayvl
drama in four acts with a prologue by Jacob Gordin
Warsaw 1907
Price 25 cents
(77 pp., 16°)

[5b] Got, mentsh un tayvl
a drama in four acts with a prologue
(published in the first volume of Gordin's anniversary edition, New York, 1911, 82 pp., 16°)
The International Library

[6] Di emes'e kraft
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
issued by A.M. Yevalenko
New York (1904), (105 pp., 16°)

[6a] (published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol, 2, new York, 1911, 81 pp., 16°)

[7] Gordin's Dramas
Der unbekanter
a drama in four acts with a prologue
by Jacob Gordin
Issued by the International Library
New York (1907), price 20 cents, (104 pp., 16°)

[7a] Warsaw trs'kh 1908.
(80 pp., 16°)

[7b] (Published in Gordin's anniversary edition, New York, 1911,
Vol. 2, 83 pp., 16°)

[8] Gordin's dramas
Elisha ben abuyah
historic drama in four acts
by Jacob Gordin
price 15 cents
issued by the International Library
(New York, [1907], 88 pp., 16°)

[8a] a drama in four acts
Warsaw trs'kh (1908), [71 pp., 16°)

[8b] (published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. 1,
New York, 1911, 74 pp., 16°)

[9] Der meturef
drama in four acts
by Jacob Gordin
issued by the International Library Publishing Co.
(New York, 1907)
Price 20 cents
(102 pp., 16°)

[9a] Publishing house "Amkroyt and Friend," Przemysl Publishers
1908 (62 pp., 16°)

[9b] (Published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. I,
New York, 1911, 80 pp., 16°)

[10] Di gebrider luria
lebensbild in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Yiddish Theatre-Library No. 1
Warsaw 1907
(51 pp., 16°)

[11] Der vilder mentsh
lebensbild in five acts, 7 scenes
by Jacob Gordin
Publishing House "Ybnh" Warsaw, 1907
Yiddish Theatre-Library, No. 3
(54 pp., 16°)

[12] Der yudisher kenig lir
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Yiddish Theatre-Library, No. 5
Warsaw, 1907
(50 pp., 16°)

[13] Sappho
lebensbild in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Price 25 cents
issued by Jacob Gordin Literary Circle
New York, 1907
(86 pp., 16° with a foreword by H. Zolotorov)

[13a] Sappho
Oysgabe "Ferlags-biro," Warsaw Trs'kh (1908)
(68 pp., 16°. Oyfn troysn sher-blat: "Drama,"
in Zolotorov's introduction.)

[13b] Sappho
A drama in four acts
(published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. 1
New York, 1911, 72 pp., 16°, with Zolotorov's foreword).

[14] Devorah'le meyukheses
lebensbild in four acts by J. Gordin
The "Yudishe bine" Publishing House
Warsaw, Trs'z (1907)
(70 pp., 16°, published  in Pietrkow)

[15] Kreutzer Sonata
a drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
issued by M. Mayzel, Newark, 1907 (92 pp., 16°)

[15a] Oysgabe "Ferlags-biro" Warsaw
Warsaw 1908
(74 pp., 16°)

[15b] Kreutzer Sonata
(published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. 2
New York, 1911, 75 pp., 16°)

[16] Di shkhithe
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Yiddish Theatre-Library, No. 14
Publishing House "Ybnh." (64 pp., 16°)

[17] Der emes (Di varhayt)
a drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Publishing House of Amkroyt and Friend Bookstore,
Przemsyl, 1908

[18] Dovidl meshoyrer
a drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Hoypt ferkoyf bay Amkroyt and Friend
(1908, for an edition with the publication year of 1911, 68 pp., 16°)

[19] Di shene miryam
historical operetta in four acts with prologue and epilogue by Jacob Gordin, music by Mogulesko.
Przemysl, Trskh -- 1908.
Eygenthum and Publishing House  of Amkroyt and Friend Bookstore, Przemysl
Publishde by Sh.L. Deitsher, Podgurze, (56 pp., 16°)

[20] On a heym
a drama in four acts
(published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. 2,
New York, 1911, 97 pp., 16°)

[21] Oyf di berg
a drama in four acts with a prologue
(published in Gordin's anniversary edition, Vol. 1
New York, 1911, 87 pp., 16°)

[22] Di shvue
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Warsaw Tre'a (1911)
(90 pp., 16°)

[23] Der sharlatan
a lebensbild in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Publishing House of Amkroyt and Friend Bookstore, Przemysl, 1912
{44 pp., 16°)

[24-39] Jacob Gordin's One-Acters
issued by the "Tog"
New York, 1917, (p. XIV + 249, 16°)
(includes the following, from "Tog" republished, one-acters, edited by J. Entin, with a foreword
by Elkhasnador Gordin, a son of Jacob:

  1. Der gayst fun der gheto

  2. Di voltheter fun der ist sayd, comedy.

  3. Der rusisher amerikanisher farein mit breyte idealn (translated by J. Entin).

  4. A tenh tsvishn man un froy.

  5. Er un zi, humorous scene.

  6. Iz er shuldig?, dramatic scene.

  7. Di vanzinige aktrise, a dramatic scene.

  8. Der opgeshtorbener kinstler, a dramatic scene.

  9. Zi vil nit dem shidukh, a dramatic scene.

  10. A tragedye dukh shpas.

  11. Farvos mener liebn, comedy.

  12. Kapitan dreyfus, dramatic scene.

  13. Yokl der oper'n-makher.

  14. Nokh der shkhithe, a dramatic scene.

  15. Di tipn galerye, dramatic scene.

  16. Der krizis, a comedy in two acts.

[40] Der fremder
drama in four acts by Jacob Gordin
Publisher Theatre Library
Warsaw 1922 (48 pp., 16°)

In Hebrew:

[1] Halhim, Hadm vhshtn
Khziun barbe merchut uprulug
Mat Jacob Gordin
Evrit e'i R' Klunimus (K. Silmn)
Hutsat snunit (Kh)
Dfus ezriel yerushalayim Tre'h (1915)
(96 pp., 16°)

[2] Eliasha ben abuyah
Khziun barbe merchut
Mat Jacob Gordin
Evrit e'i R' Klunimus (K. Silmn)
Hutsat sninit (T)
Dfus ezriel yerushalayim chslu tre'u (1916)
(72 pp., 16°)

(3) Jacob Gordin
drama barbe merkhut
trgm yisroel brukh
Hutsat "Snunit" Lwow (1922?)
(38 pp., 16°)

In Russian:

(2) Di shkhithe
translated by M. Fonberg
Publishing House Savremennya Problemi
Moscow 1910
(according to Z. Reisen's "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature")

(3) Khasye di yesoyme
translated by Y. Yulin
Publishing House Y. Halpern, Vilna, 1922.
(according to Z. Reisen's "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature")

(4) Sarah Fingerhut
translated by A. Volkansky
Publishing House Portugalov, Moscow, 1911
(according to Z. Reisen's "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I)

(6) Der yidisher kenig lir
translated by D. Rozenblit
Odessa, 1912
(according to Z. Reisen's "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. 1).

(7) Elisha ben abuyah
translated by D. Rozenblit
Odessa, 1912
(according to Z. Reisen's "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. 1).

("Der umbakanter," anonymously published)

In English:

(1) The Jewish King Lear
A drama in four acts
by Jacob Gordin
(published in a program for the "George Jessel Lodz Vol. 566, Independent Order  B'nai-B'rith" issued it in relation to an offering of 19 Dec. 1905).

(2) The Kreutzer Sonata
A play in four acts
adapted from the Yiddish of Jacob Gordin
by Langdon Mitchell
Harrison Grey Fiske
New York 1907. (78 pp., 16°).

In German:

(1) Jacob Gordin
Das Geld
drama in four acts
1, 2, 3, 4, 6, keln.
published in "Die Velt," 1906)

(2) Mirele Efros, Drama in vier Aufzugen
von Jakob Gordin,
ubertragen von Alexander Eliasberg,
Georg Muller-Verlag, Munich, 1919

(published in the first volume of Eliasberg's translation, "Yiddish Theatre," 132 pp., 16°).

M.E. from Michael Goldberg, Leon Gottlieb, Julius Adler and Jacob Mestel.
  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, pp. 107-41, 158-189, 207, 258-260, 279.

  • Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 519-530.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Di yidishe bine, "Di arbeter tsaytung," N.Y., 20, 27 November 1891.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Vegen di drama "pogrom," "Di arbeter tsaytung," N.Y., 15 April 1892.

  • L. Miller -- Unzer yidishe kunst, "Di arbeter tsaytung," N.Y., 22 April 1892.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Der yidisher theater un di amerikaner romanen, "Di arbeter tsaytung," N.Y., 29 April 1892.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Der sujet fun mayn tsukunftige drama, "Di arbayter tsaytung," N.Y., 20 May 1892.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Shtimen oys dem folk, "Di arbayter tsaytung," N.Y., 30 September 1892.

  • Jacob Milkh -- A frage tsu hern gordin, dort, 7 Oct. 1892.

  • L. Miller -- Shtimen oys dem folk, dort, 21 Oct. 1892.

  • Jacob Milkh -- Shtimen oys dem folk, dort 28 Oct. 1892.

  • A.K. -- Tsveyerley rikhtungen in dem yidishn theater, dort, 24, 31 May, 8, 14 June 1895.

  • (Jacob Gordin) -- Herr gordin's antvort, dort, 21, 28 June 1895.

  • A.K. -- Eyn zayt fun medal, oder beyde?, dort, 4 July 1895.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Eyn zayt fun medal, oder beyde, dort, 11 July 1895.

  • (Ab. Cahan)  -- Di naye yidishe piesn, dort, 11 Oct. 1895.

  • (M.H. Hermalin) -- Dray naye piesn in di dray yidishe theaters, dort, 6 Dec. 1895.

  • L.E. Miller -- "Got, mentsh un tayvl," "Forward," N.Y., 25, 26, 28, 30 Sept.; 2, 5 Oct. 1900.

  • L.E. Miller -- Eynhayt in kunst, "Forward," N.Y., 27 Sept. 1900.

  • K. Lipzin -- "Ronye di potshtarke," "Forward," N.Y., 8 Oct. 1900.

  • B. Holtzman -- "Di shvue," "Forward," N.Y., 3 Nov. 1900.

  • Nit keyn kritiker -- "Di shvue," "Forward," N.Y., 3 Nov. 1900.

  • B.G. (B. Gorin) -- Yakov gordin, "der theater zhurnal," N.Y., 5, 1901.

  • "Suvenir tsu yakov gordin's tsen-yorigen yubileum," New York, November 1901.

  • B. Gorin -- "Kreutzer sonata," "Der theater zhurnal," N.Y., 9, 1902.

  • M.A. -- Vider di kreytser sonata dort.

  • B. Gorin -- Der eyts hada'as, dort, 11, 1902.

  • Jacob Gordin -- "Die Welt," Koln, 1, 1906.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Di yidishe drama un di yidishe bine, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 15 Sept. 1907.

  • Jacob Gordin -- "Dos shpiel in liebe," "Di varhayt," N.Y., 3 Oct. 1907.

  • Bel-mkhshbut -- Brief vegen literatur, "Der Yidisher kempfer," Philadelphia, 28 December 1906; 4, 11 January 1907.

  • J. Entin -- Yakov gordin un dos yidishe theater, "Der yidisher kemfer," N.Y., 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 1907.

  • Bel dmiunut -- Yakov gordin iz hungerig., dort, 7, 1907.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Far vos yakov gordin vil nit entfern zayn kritiker, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 30 Nov. 1907.

  • L.E. Miller -- A nayer vort fun yakov gordin, dort, 29 October 1907.

  • L.E. Miller -- Yakov gordin's "on a heym," dort, 30 Oct. 1907.

  • L.E. Miller -- Di oyffirung fun "on a heym" in grend theater, dort, 31 Oct. 1907.

  • A.G. -- Yakov gordin's nayeste piese, dort, 21 Dec. 1907.

  • Dr. K. Fornberg -- Yakov gordin's naye drame "goles galitsien" in grend theater, dort, 5 January 1908.

  • (--) -- Jacob gordin un der "forverts," dort, 17 Jan. 1908

  • R.M. Bernstein -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 18 January 1908.

  • (--) -- Der historisher held fun "goles galitsien," dort, 21 January 1908.

  • (--) -- Gordin krigt a hilkhedige ovatsye, dort, 23 January 1908.

  • Jacob Zeinfeld -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 26 January 1908.

  • David Kopelzon -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 30 January 1908.

  • M. Winchevsky -- Morris vintshevski vegn "forverts," Zametkin un Gordin, dort, 6 Feb. 1908.

  • Benny Hitelman -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 7 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Gordin's platz als yidisher drama-shrayber, "Forward," 1 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Yakov gordin un theater kritik, "Forward," N.Y., 2 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Kritik-fiber, "Forward," N.Y., 4 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Fraye liebe un fraye kritik, "Forward," 5 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Proze un proze oyf der yidisher bine, "Forward," 8 Feb. 1908.

  • Jacob Gordin -- Far vos abe kahan iz itst aroys gegen yakov gordin, "Varhayt," N.Y., 7 February 1908.

  • M. Winchevsky -- Abe kahan's fergangenhayt, gegenvart un tsukunft, dort, 8 February 1908.

  • Y. Bernstein -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 9 February 1908.

  • (--) -- Yakov gordin farshprekht "fon," dort, 10 February 1908.

  • Jacob D. Shayovitz -- Shtimen fun folk, dort, 10 February 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Di perzonen in gordin's piesn, "Forward," N.Y., 15, 16 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Vos heyst an origineles verk?, "Forward," 22 Feb. 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- A por perzenlekhe verter, "Forward," 3 March 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Gordin's "mirele efros," "Forward," 10, 11 March 1908.

  • M. Baranov -- Der kamf fun yakov gordin mit zayne kritikers, "Forward," 12 March 1908.

  • Zrubbl -- Vos men denkt in rusland vegen gordinen, "Forward," 15 March 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Gordin's "saffho," "Forward," 21, 22, 23 March 1908.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Fun vanen hot gordin genumen "zayne" artikln, "Forward," 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 April 1908.

  • Jacob P. Adler -- A brief fun yakov p. adler, 'Forward," 15 April 1908.

  • M.L. -- Yakov gordin's "shkhithe" un "mirele efros" in peterburg, "Forward," 14 May 1908.

  • (--) -- Der yidisher theater in rusland un in amerika, "Forward," 14 May 1908.

  • (Jacob P. Adler) -- Jacob p. adler shraybt far'n "forverts" zayne erinerungen vegn yakov gordin, "Forward," 12, 13 June 1909.

  • Morris Rozenfeld -- Bay gordin's kbr, "Forward," 13 June 1909.

  • A. Liesin -- Yakov gordin, dort.

  • Hutchins Hapgood -- "The Spirit of the Ghetto," new York, Funk & Wagnalls Comp., 1909, pp. 113-176.

  • Yankl Doliner -- A monument fir y. gordin in newark, "Der kendeder adler," Montreal, 19 June 1910.

  • David Frischmann -- "Shriftn," Warsaw, 1911, Vol. III, pp. 128-33.

  • B. Gorin -- Der yidisher teatger in amerike, "Di yudishe velt," Vilna, 5, 1913.

  • M-M -- Heymloze, "Haynt," Warsaw, 4 May 1913.

  • Jacob P. Adler -- Vi halt es mit'n yidishn theater?, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 5 Dec. 1915.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Mayn lebens geshikhte," pp. 204-5, 249-51, 254, 263-4, 276, 279-82, 295-98.

  • Elkhasnador Gordin -- Di oyfgabe un der avek fun eyn-akter, "Der tog," N.Y., 1, 2 Oct. 1917.

  • J. Entin -- In un arum theater, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 3 Feb. 1918.

  • J. Entin -- Yakov gordins an alte piese in thomashefsky's theater, "Di varhayt," N.Y., 3 Dec. 1918.

  • A. Glantz -- Shpendlekh fun a dramaturg's verkshtel, "Der tog," N.Y., 3 March 1918.

  • Isaac Goldberg -- "The Drama of Transition," Cncinatti, 1922, pp. 356-65.

  • S. Dingol -- Yakob p. adler, "Ta'k," Lodz, 1, 1922.

  • Joel Entin -- Get der yidisher teater in faroys oder tsurik?, "Der tog," N.Y., 23 November 1924.

  • Gershom Bader -- Tsurik tsu gordin, "Yidishe tagenblatt," N.Y., 14 November 1924.

  • Shakhna Epstein -- Tsu yakob gordin's 15tn yahrzeit, "Frayhayt," N.Y., 13 June 1924.

  • Noach Prilutski -- Yakob gordin, "Yidishe bine," Warsaw, 3, 1924.

  • Berta Kalich -- (Memoirs), "Der tog," N.Y., 30 Sept.; 4, 24 Oct. 1925.

  • P.M. -- "Koymenkerer" in yidishn ukrainishn milkhome-teater, "Frayhayt," N.Y., 6 November 1926.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Der yidisher teater far 30 yorn un haynt, "Forward," 24 April 1927.

  • W. Felin -- Yakob gordin der "bibleyetz," "Frimorgn," Riga, January 1927.

  • Ab. Cahan -- "Got, mentsh un tayvl -- ibergemakht, "Forward," N.Y., 25 Dec. 1928.

  • A. Glantz -- Got, mentsh un shvartz, "Der tog," N.Y., 27 Dec. 1928.

  • N. Buchwald -- Interesante oyffirung fun gordin's "got, mentsh un tayvl" in yidishn kunst teater "frayhayt," N.Y., 28 Dec. 1928.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Hintern forhang," Vilna, 1928, pp. 118-139.

  • Joel Entin -- Yakob gordin, "teater-bukh lekoved der bine heym fun yidishn kunst teater," New York, 1928-29, pp. 33-36.

  • Z. Kornblit -- "Di dramatishe kunst," N.Y., 1928, pp. 89, 154-57, 189-90.

  • Ab. Cahan -- "Bleter fun mayn lebn," Vol. III, pp. 186-194, 460-461; Vol. IV, pp. 253-54, 344-377, 383-397, 518-529, 571-578.

  • Sh. Yanovsky -- Di ershte 20 yor "fraye arbeter shtime," "Fraye arbeter shtime," N.Y., January, 1 February, 5 April, 1929.

  • Jacob Gordin -- A brif fun yakob gordin, "Moment," Warsaw, 28 June 1928.

  • J. Entin -- Der itstiger teater-sezon, "Tsukunft," February 1929.

  • Kalman Marmor -- Yakob gordin, "Frayhayt," N.Y., 8 June 1929.

  • Y. Donkin -- "Mirele efros" in shtot-teater, "Nayer folksblat," Lodz, 13 June 1929.

  • Boris Thomashefsky -- Boris tomashevsky's zikhrones fun yidishn teater, "Kalif. yid. shtime," 19 April 1929.

  • Joel Entin -- Yakob gordin's platz altz leydig tsvantsig yor nokh zayn toyt, "Der tog," N.Y., 11 June 1929.

  • Gershom Bader -- Elisha ben abuyah --akhr, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 1 Dec. 1929.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Zikhrones fun a yidishn teater-kritiker, "Archive," pp. 348, 349, 358, 359, 366, 370, 371, 378, 386, 396.

  • Y.Sh. -- Moris rozenfelds a satirisher dialog oyf dem yidishn teater, "Archive," pp. 448-9.

  • An'alter Teatral -- Der "yudisher kenig lir" in lodzer poylishn teater "Lodztgb," Lodz, 27 June 1930.

  • Dr. M. Weinreich -- Yakob gordin's "mirele efros" oyf der poylisher bine, "Forward," 18 may 1930.

  • Emilia Adler -- Dos lebn fun a yidisher aktrise, "Di yidishe velt," Cleveland, 22, 26 August; 2 Sept. 1930.

  • Moshe Shemash -- Yakob gordin's got, mentsh un tayvl mit 25 yor tsurik un haynt, "Di yidishe beker shtime," N.Y., 4 January 1930.

  • M. Osherowitch -- "Dovid kessler in muni weisenfreund," N.Y., 1930, pp. 117-123.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 392.

Translated ccurtesy of Paul Azaroff and Steven Lasky.

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.