Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


B. Gorin
(Yitzhak Goyda-Hoyda)

Born on 18 April 1868 in Lida, Vilna Gubernia, Polish Lithuania, to religious parents of means, who were shopkeepers. Until the age of eighteen, G. learned in cheders, then together with several friends left for the Mir Yeshiva, and he was there however for a short time and turned back home, where he began his secular education, earlier in a high achieving Yiddish school, and then with a private teacher.

At the age of sixteen he arrived in Vilna and joined a Yiddish teacher's institute, but he made the acquaintance of Isaac Meir Dick, and the latter took away his desire for it. Here G. remained for several years, living from giving hours and continued to study diligently. He survived by volunteering hours, while he himself industrially continued to learn.

Around 1889 he began to write in "Hoyz-fraynd," "Yudishe bibliotek," publishing small stories, translating Dicken's novel, "David Cooperfield," and in the Fall of 1894 left for New York, where he became a constant contributor for the socialist "Arbeter tsaytung" and "Unzer-blat" and there composed two to three sketches a week. At the same time, in the "Tsukunft," he wrote Yiddish literature and theatre.

In 1897 G. became a theatre critic  for "Unzer-blat." On 1 October 1901 he began to publish in New York the "Theatre Journal" (appearing one time in two weeks. B. Gorin, editor), a journal


dedicated to special theatre. The journal, usually in book format, was published in fourteen issues (five cents an issue), and G. on his own published very many articles about Yiddish theatre, about Yiddish dramaturges, and about the theatre arts and dramaturges in general. Besides this there was published in the fourteen issues articles from A. Goldfaden, A. Tanenbaum, A. Harkavy, B. Thomashefsky, S. Tornberg, and an unfinished autobiography of Jacob P. Adler.

On 15 April 1908 there was published the last issue of this journal, and G., with his last powers wanted to maintain it, but he had to pause until October 15 of the same year, when he began to publish again in journal format "Theatre Journal and Family Friend" (published every Wednesday. In English it was given that B. Gorin is the editor and publisher.) The journal had in every issue a tableau from a playwright, or an actor on the first page, and eight cents was received for each issue in New York.

In the foreword it is said that with the issue there began on the 2nd anniversary of this "Theatre Journal," But there is a radical change in its appearance. Instead of the one dedicated to the theatre so far, he it now becomes journal for literature, drama and generally useful news, and instead of appearing once a week, twice in two weeks, it now is published weekly.

"The journal will use all its powers to fight against everything that is unscrupulous, everything that is disgusting, everything that has no taste and no value in Yiddish literature and the Yiddish stage."

The journal created many enemies and is knowledgeable in the Yiddish theatre world.

The journal takes an important place for theatre and even publishes theatre reviews. From issue 7 he again turns out a two-week page, but more than eleven issues were not published. In the volumes 8-9 N. published his adaptation of Chekhov's dramatic etude, "Dr shvanengezang" (the author of the issue is not given.)

Then G. began to contribute in the "Forward," "Fraynt" and since 1906 (with a break from 1908, when he was editor of the "Yidishn farmer"), he regularly contributed  to the "Morning Journal," where besides other literary work he has published since 1913 very many reviews about Yiddish theatre. G. put out many original and translated books, among them a book with content from the dramas of the famous world dramaturges.

G. specialized in the field of theatre critiques, and had in the span of thirty years came honestly and quietly for a real life-trained realism on the Yiddish stage. Being so close to the Yiddish actors, he also began to attempt with his powers in the dramatic field, and so he wrote the following plays:

"Der vilner bel-habitl," a drama in four acts (1898), which hadn't any relationship  to the historic Vilna bel-hbitl, She does, however, treat a similar case. The play was performed in March 1898 in New York (The play was called "Alter der zinger," by the author, but Kessler, who staged it, had completed the name.)

"Barukh Spinoza," a drama in four acts (performed in1902, only once through Thomashefsky during his benefit) -- a dramatization from Berthold Auberbach's novel, which G. also translated into Yiddish.

"A kharaz oyf a nakht" (in Gorin's "List of Plays" was called "A charaz oyf a tog"), a comedy in four acts, (staged in 1912 in the Novelty Theatre through Schikdkraut), adopted from Hauptmann's "Schluck und Jau."

"In yedn hoyz (In Every House)," a comedy in four acts (performed on 4 December 1924 in the Art Theatre, for G.'s thirty-year anniversary of his activity in literature). In this comedy he touches on the problem of the relations between parents and children in the American-Jewish family.

In 1917 through G.'s initiative, under the direction of Max Gabel, there was staged Aaron Wolfzon's comedy, "Leybtzin un fremeley" (Breslau tk"nu), 120 years after her publication, under the name, "Der tsbuek, adapted by B. Gorin.

In 1918 in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre there as performed G.'s adaptation of Mendele's "Der priziv (The Draft)."

Besides this G. wrote the following plays, which were never performed:

  • "Levbedike keytn," a drama in four acts, of New York Jewish life.

  • "Yitskhok fon york," a historical drama in five acts (adapted by Walter Skam's "Ivanhoe"

  • "Der kortn shpiler," adapted from Charles Dickens, "Old kuriozity shop"

  • "Zamd," an original drama in four acts of American Jewish life.

If, however, with these plays, N. did not appear to create a special place in the history of the Yiddish drama. He, however, acquired an engaging name through his book in two parts, "The History of Yiddish Theatre" -- "Two Thousand Years of Theatre for Jews" (New York, 1918. New York, 1921, 2nd enlarged edition, illustrated, Publishing House Max Mayzel, New York, Vol. I, p. 256, Vol, 2, p. 282), a work that despite some errors (see Dr. Shiper's book, "History of Yiddish Theatre Arts," and Dr. Shatzky's review in "Dos naye lebn," New York, 10-12, 1923), and also, notwithstanding that it does not possess the special virtues of a historical work, But it nevertheless proves to be an immeasurable and devastating work.

Seeing as the old pioneer of Yiddish theatre passed away, feeling the great responsibility that lies on this, Which lies on the one who can save from eternal forget the names and fatigues of the founders and later instigators of the Jewish stage and theatre arts, Gorin had collected in the span of thirty years information from older generation actors, and also ignores the current events, and they begin to publish in chapter form the history in the "Tsukunft" (1913-1916), "Amerikaner," "Morning Journal," and  in English in the "New York Evening Post," "Werner's Magazine," "Theatre Magazine," and "New York Tribune." Later he systemized these chapters, and they were published in a superficial book, an above-mentioned book that really only covers the story of Yiddish theatre in America, giving a small place for the Yiddish theatre history in Russia and Poland.

Besides the "history,' B. Gorin to the end of his work sorted a list of 2,000 plays with data of their publication, or first offering on the Yiddish stage.

When you take into account that G. created an ish main, a someone, a bone of almost no foreign element, first becomes more aware of the significance of his great work.

About the "theatre history," there was published reviews in all Yiddish periodical issues, and also in English magazines, "Buchman," "Tribune," Christian Monitor," and "Boston Transcript."

A specially detailed review was published by Ruben Braynin (sp) in the "Tog" of 30 December 1923 and 6 January 1924.

G. also left over articles and critiques about theatre, published and unpublished material for still two parts of the history of theatre, which he decided to call, "Draysik yor geshikhte fun yidishn teater (Third Year History of Yiddish Theatre?)."

On 13 April 1925 G. passed away and was brought to his eternal rest in Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Arbeter Ring plot, in New York.

Schwartz made his mind up by hanging his picture in the theatre of the Yiddish Art Theatre.

In 1927 his widow, Elizabeth, published three volumes of his collected writings with a full biography.

Sh.E. from his wife, E. Gorin.

  • Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 531-37.

  • B. Gorin -- The First Yiddish Drama, "Der tog," N.Y., 27 January 1917.

  • J. Entin -- The First History of Yiddish Theatre, "Di varhayt," 27 October 1918.

  • Dr. J. Shatzky -- Two-Thousand  Years of Yiddish Theatre, "Dos naye lebn," N.Y., August 1923.

  • N.B. Linder -- B. Gorin's Evening in the Yiddish Art Theatre, "Der tog," N.Y., 28 November 1924.

  • L.S. Bieli -- Gorin's "In yen hoyz," "Yidishe bleter," N.Y., 12 December 1924.

  • Alef-Alef -- A Holiday for Yiddish Theatre Critics, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 28 Nov. 1924.

  • Ab. Cahan -- A Play From B. Gorin in Schwartz's Theatre, "Forward," N.Y., 17 December 1924.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- "The History of Yiddish Theatre," "Forward," N.Y., 24 February 1924.

  • Efrim Auerbach -- Gorin's Corner, "Morning Journal," 17 April 1925.

  • Joel Entin -- B. Gorin, der farshtorbener beletrist un teater kritiker, "Tsukunft," May 1925.

  • B. Gorin -- A Letter From B. Gorin, "Dos naye lebn," N.Y., 11, 1923.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- "Theatre," New York, 1927, pp. 178-84.

  • L. Kusman -- Der klasiker in der teater kritik, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 16 April 1926.

  • Jacob Mestel -- Teater bikher, "Morgn Frayhayt," 8 July 1929.

  • Dr. Yitskhok Shiper -- "History of Yiddish Theatre Art."






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 463.

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