Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Vera Gordon


Born in 1888 in Yekaterinoslav, Ukraine, to very religious parents, merchants. At the age of seventeen she married Naum Gordon, an active social revolutionary, and because of this had to leave Russia. She initially immigrated to London, and then to Toronto, Canada, where she acted in a dramatic association and acted with them in Yiddish and Russian for various organizations, later joining as a professional in a local Yiddish troupe.

In 1909 she arrived with her family in New York, where she entered into the Yiddish theatres in order to act professionally. Once, acting in a mother role with Sara Adler in Russian, she caught the attention of the famous American writer Fannie Hearst, who recommended that she perform in the mother role in her play "Yumaresk" in English. G. took as such a deep interest in the role, that later when the play was adapted for a film she also acted there in that role, and succeeded greatly in the play. According to A. Babitz, that they had taken over the name of the star Elma Gluck and used her name, and that the role had made her a star. She became popular under the name "The Yiddish Mother", acting then in for almost twenty years on the English stage and in various films, as well as the legitimate English and vaudeville stage, among them the play "Potash and Perlmutter".

In between-time, she also used to perform in Yiddish.


Sick from cancer, she passed away on 8 May 1948 in Los Angeles. her son, William, is a director in the movie studio "Universal". Her sister, Luba, is the wife of social Zionist-worker-activist Avraham Babitz, former contributor to "Di idishe shtime" in Los Angeles and one of the first members of New York's "Progressive Dramatic Club".

In the necrology in "Di idishe shtime", it is said:

"Even after twenty-five years, she generally was active in all the prominent, local institutions -- in Moshav Zknim, sanatoriums, help for Europe, the rescue of children. Except that she was always been willing to include and help people in need. Her house was known as the Hollywood inn for all bergekumen Jewish artists and ticket sellers.

From her sick-bed, she used to work the telephone when there came about a need for a kindness or a good deed.. She also helped greatly in the building of the Western Jewish Institute" [Rabbi Neches' shul, later "Shaari Tefilah"].

Sh. E. from Abraham Babitz.

  • David Druck -- Vera gordon, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 10 January 1935.

  • [--] -- Vera gordon, bavuste bine un muvi artistin, plutsling geshtorben, "Di idishe shtime", Los Angeles, 14 May 1948.

  • M. Shalit -- In los angeles, same.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4.  page 2664.

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