Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Henryk Grinberg

Born on 4 July 1936 in the village of Radoshin, behind Minsk Mazovietsk, Poland. Father -- lessee with the local landowner.

Through the first three years of the Nazi occupation the entire family remained in their village. The hunt for Jews started there in 1942. The family had to leave that place and began to wander from town to town looking for a place to hide among the kinder noblemen for whom G.'s grandfather and great grandfather had been land lessees. They also looked for hiding places among the peasants whom the knew ever since their childhood years.

In the course of the wanderings almost all members of the family had died, including G.'s father. With the end of his wanderings, the warmest relationship to him was shown by a village priest, exhibiting it to the children as a template for his knowledge of catechism and church ceremonies, so that the village children even used to call him "Priest."

At the age of six, he moved with his mother to Warsaw, where they stayed on the Aryan side. Soon, however, they also had to run from there, and by the end of the Second World War, they were found in a village in the "kresn" (border areas), where they were liberated by the Red Army.

After the end of the war, G. returned to Poland, where he began to study and completed the Warsaw University with the title of Master of Journalism.


Moved by his longing to further Jewish tradition, culture and language, he joined in 1958 the dramatic studio of the Warsaw Jewish State Theatre, where he debuted a year later and played there until the end of December 1967, when during the guest appearance of the troupe in New York, he no longer returned with the troupe, but he remained with his wife, the Polish actress Kristina Valtshok, with his mother in Los Angeles, America.

In the span of his association with the "Jewish State Theatre of Poland," G. played the roles: "The Jew" in "A Winter Night," "Markus" in "Sender Blank," and "Solomoncik" in "The Big Winner" by Sholem Aleichem, "Der koymenkerer" in "Yoskhe muzikant (The Singer of his Sorrows)" by Dymow, "Vacek" in "Di poylisher velder" by Opatoshu, "Donnie" in "Mirele Efros" by Gordin, "Avramele" in "Sarah-Sheyndl from Yekhupetz" by Latayner-Broderzon, and "Leopold" in "Meier Ezofowicz" by Orzeszkowa.

G. also played on the Polish stage as a "wonder child" (1943-51) in Lodz in the "Teater Povshechni" and "Teater Yarotsha," including with Karol Adventovitsh, and later in episodic roles in Polish films that were associated with Jewish themes.

G. created the translations for Yiddish from Polish for the radiophone, for the non-Yiddish listeners in the Jewish State Theatre in Poland.

G. especially was dedicated to writer activity in Polish. In 1963 he published his volume of stories, "Di ekipe antigona," and in 1966 his great work, "Di yidishe milkhome," which he received a literary prize from the Kotshelski Fund in Geneva (Switzerland), which was given that year to him for the best fictional work in the Polish language. This book also was prepared to be published in 1968, in English and Hebrew translations. Both works treat in a subjective manner the problem of the Holocaust, the condition of the Jews in occupied Poland, and the attitude of the Polish population.

In the journal, "Midstrot" (March 1968), there was published an article about the condition of the Jews in Poland.


  • Sh.L. Schneiderman -- Der ingster -- afsher letster yidish-poylisher shrayber, "Yidisher kamfer," N.Y., 15 Dec. 1967.

  • H. Lang -- Der shoyshpiler un shrayber henryk grinberg un zayn froy, "Forward," N.Y., 6 January 1968.

  • Benjamin Mazer-Herzog -- Komunistn in poyln shendn ondenk fun geto-kemfer, "Forward," N.Y., 12 April 1968.

  • Sh.L. Schneiderman -- Yidish-poylisher shrayber tret aroys kegen anti-yisroel hetse, "Daily Morning Journal," N.Y., 14 April 1968.

  • Dr. N. Swerdlin -- Baym forhang, "Daily Morning Journal," N.Y., 4 April 1968.

  • Jerry Ruhlow -- Polish writer, wife seek U.S. asylum, "Los Angeles Times," L.A., 31 December 1967.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5071.

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