Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Dina Halpern


Born on 15 July 1909 in the Praga section of Warsaw, Poland. Her father was a locksmith, metal and machine mechanic. In her very early years, she was brought with her family to Kremenchug, Ukraine, where her father was hired as a engineer-mechanic in the "Adamski Factory." Once again moving to Warsaw, H. was raised there in the spirit of the Jewish traditions, learning in a Jewish folk school, "Hebrew" in a cheder, and privately with rabbis, then in the Hebrew elementary school of Davidowicz and graduated from her secular Polish school, which was under the direction of Phiipena Buki (sp). In 1925 she studied another half-year in a Polish folk-university and also, in evening courses, Polish journalism in the class of Prof. Emilia Pankevividzhovna. Also for a short time she gave lectures in Polish for "reading and writing" to the younger talmudim students.

Due to her family members who were related to Esther Rukhl Kaminska (the youngest sister of her grandfather), she often attended her productions and became excited about theatre with an immense longing and passion.

On 19 March 1926 she performed for the first time in ballet in the "Kaminska Theatre" in the operetta, "Caucasian Love,' under the choreographic direction of Sam Bronetsky, who became her dance teacher, and shortly thereafter she was


taken into the chorus under the direction of Itzhak Schlossberg and krigt oykh, a little later, and she had a small role under the direction of Shlomo Kutner. In 1927 she arrived as an understudy in "VIKT" in Goldfaden's, "La skhmud" under the direction of Zygmunt Turkow, who started her on aroysrukn in, at first in small dramatic roles (then a greater role, in Jacob Pat's "Golden Land.")  In the 1928 season she performed as "Tseitl" in Sholem Aleichem's "Tevye the Dairyman" with the guest-starring Rudolph Zaslavsky, and in the same year she took the exam to become a member of the "Yiddish Artists Union in Poland" in the role of "Tsiperin" in Gordin's "God, Man and Devil." In 1929 she played in the revue-theatre "Sambatyon" under the leadership of Itzhak Nozyk. In 1930, for the first time, under the leadership of Itzhak Nozyk in the "Folks Theatre" on Smocza Street, she acted in her first dramatic roles of the Kaminska repertoire, as "Chasia the Orphan," "Esterke" from "The Slaughter," and also guest-starred with the troupe across other cities of Poland.

In 1931 she married her ballet teacher and operetta actor Sam Bronetsky, and with him went on a tour across the Polish province, with their own troupe (manager-- her uncle Avraham Halpern), with an operetta repertoire. The tour lasted a year's time and toured the larger and smaller cities of Poland, Eastern and Western Galicia, Volin, Polesia, and the new realm of Greater Poland. In the repertoire were Bronetsky's adapted musical play, "Mademoiselle Fifi," and "The Big Inheritance[?]," then in 1932 she guest-starred in Vilna with the local troupe "Unzer Theatre," in "Di modelke," Bronetsky's adaptation and musical interpretation of Shaw's "Pygmalion." At the end of 1932 she acted with Zygmunt Turkow there, in "Dr. Levy" by Gold, and in Bronetsky's reportage, "Al Capone," and in other plays. In the summer of 1933 she guest-starred with Bronetsky in their repertoire in Kovno (Lithuania), under the direction of Lan (sp). In the winter of 1933, together with Zygmunt Turkow in dramatic repertoire ("Frosine" in Moliere's "The Miser"), "Esmeralda" in Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Reizele" in Sackler's "Yizkor," "Devorale" in Asch's "Kidush Hashem," et al), later there, with Alex Stein as "Sheine" in Dymow's "The Singer of his Sorrows," and "Miriam" in Anski's "Day and Night." In the Spring of 1934, she guest-starred in a series of operettas and comedies in the Yiddish Meutim Theatre in Riga (Latvia).

At the end of 1934 they returned to Warsaw and joined the "Skala Theatre" (under the direction of Henryk Riba), where she performed in her repertoire, as well as in the play, "Di umgezetslekhe froy" and "Mata Hari," a reportage-play, adapted by David Globus, stage-directed by S. Bronetsky, and in Gottesfeld's "In-Laws." In the winter of 1936 they toured with their own troupe across the Polish province. In 1937 they were engaged in Warsaw's "Novoshtshi Theatre" (under the direction of Meir Winder), where she acted with Zygmunt Turkow in Leivick's "Shop," Sholem Aleichem's "Wandering Stars" and Shneour's "Noach Pandre." In the same year (1937) H. also performed in two Yiddish films: "The Vow" (role of "Rachel"), directed by Henryk Szaro, and Anski's "the Dybbuk" (role of "Frade"), directed by Michal Waszynski. There was published in Polish (in "Shviat Films") an article, "Di kunst iz geven mayn vegveyzer," and played in the evening in the small-arts theatre, "Ararat," with Dzigan-Schumacher in the program "Der varshever irid."

In the Autumn of 1937 through Clara Segalowitz, there was created in Warsaw the "Teater far yungt," and H. came to play the title role of Goldfaden's "Di kishufmakherin (The Witch)" [the first woman on the Yiddish stage to play this particular role], adapted by Itzik Manger and stage directed by Jacob Rotbaum. The production was given in the mornings and afternoons for the students of the Jewish schools. The success of the productions were so great, that they were later given to normal productions in the "Skala Theatre."

Dina Halpern as "Mkhshfh" (drawing by Peretz Kleinman)

In 1938, when there was created the "Jewish National Theatre" (through the Israel-Theatrical Margaret Klauzner and Yehoshue Branshteter), and there H. became engaged and participated in a main role in the play, "The Judgment," by Shulamit bat-Dori (translated by Aaron Zeitlin), under the direction of Leopold Lindberg, and in the play, "Der kamf far erd" by Shulamit bat-Dori (regisseur-- author), and "Jacob and Esau," by S. Grossman, translated by the Tunkeler, regisseur Leopold Meinhard. H. completed her acting in Poland with a tour across the province with Dymow's play, "Di libe un nyu" (played by her, Bronetsky and Hersh Hart), and on the invitation of the "Second Avenue Theatre" in New York, she came with Bronetsky to play in America.

Her debut in America came on 26 October 1938 in Leib Melach's melodrama, "With Open Eyes," and she completed the season with William Siegel's operetta, "Long Live America." She intended to return to Warsaw, but due to the outbreak of the Second World War she remained in America for the 1939-40 season (due to technical reasons, such as "a partnership" with the director Judah Bleich, Wolfe Barzell, Michael Rosenberg and Moshe Rauch), in the same theatre in the play, "In a Jewish Grocery" by Nakhum Stutchkoff, "The Three Sisters" by Abraham Blum, etc., and she completed the season with the troupe in the "Hopkinson Theatre" in Siegel's "Forgotten Women" and "The Bridal Dance" and S.H. Cohen's  "Feivke the Slave." In 1940-41 she acted with the troupe across various parts of New York, and in a series of larger cities of the United States, and between 1941-42 in the Bronx's "Tremont Theatre" in "Feivke the Slave."

Here she studied English with Gertrude Keller for two-and-a-half years at "Columbia University" in New York.

In 1943 H. acted in New York's "Public Theatre" in Julie Bern's play, "The Golden Land" and "Bronx Marriage Bureau" (regisseur-- Judah Bleich), and she guest-starred at the beginning of 1944 in Chicago (Manager Ostroff) in Siegel's play, "Children Without a Home" and "Women of the Night," as well as in Detroit in Littman's Theatre, and she was taken in as a member of the Yiddish [Hebrew] Actors' Union, performing for her exam as "Esterke" in Gordin's "The Slaughter."

In 1944 she was engaged in the "New Jewish Folks Theatre" (under the leadership of Jacob Ben Ami), where she participated in Leivick's "The Miracle of the Warsaw Ghetto" (the role of "Wanda"), and "We Want to Live" by David Bergelson (regisseur-- Jacob Rotbaum), and then traveled with the troupe in a tour across the larger cities of America.

In the summer of 1946 she traveled to Europe to play with the Shaarit haPlita Yiddish actors, and after acting for seven weeks in Paris in the "Antipe Theatre" and the "Sara Bernhardt Theatre,' she traveled to London, where she performed in the "Grand Palais" (director--  Mark Markov) in "Froy gegn froy (Woman Against Woman[?])" by Sholem Perlmutter, "Chasia the Orphan" and "Mirele Efros" by Jacob Gordin. In 1947 she guest-starred in the "Teatro Mitre" in Buenos Aires, Argentina (director Willie Goldstein and Miriam Lerer), where she acted for six months, also across the Argentinean province, then in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo (Brazil) and Montevideo (Uruguay).

In 1947 she was engaged in the Yiddish Art Theatre" (Director and regisseur-- Maurice Schwartz), where she played in the role of "Portia" in Avi Ibn-Zahav's play, "Shylock and his Daughter," and later in the repertoire of Hirshbein and Leivick. In 1948 she traveled with the "Art Theatre" with "Shylock and his Daughter" across the American province. Here he became acquainted in Chicago with the English press-director for theatre and opera Daniel Newman and, being close (or a relative?) to her first husband, she married him during her guest-appearance, for the second time, in London, in the "Alexandra Theatre," and they settled in Chicago.

In 1949 she performed in Chicago's "Douglas [Park] Theatre" in Philip Yordan's "Anna Lucasta" (translated by A. Margolin), and in 1950 she acted in the same theatre in "The Little Foxes" by Lillian Hellman (translated by Dr. A. Margolin). In 1951 she performed in Chicago and the vicinity in "word concerts" of Yiddish poets, and in 1952 she again went to guest-star in Buenos Aires in their "Teatro Mitre" (directors Willie Goldstein and Miriam Lerer) in her own translation of "The Inheritance of Henry James," then guest-starred in Sao Paolo (Brazil), under the direction of Itzhak Lubelchick. Between the years 1953-55 she again performed in the United States, chiefly in Chicago, with "word concerts" for the Jewish cultural-social institutions and Jewish schools, and she also issued a record with the following poems: "Yidish lshon" by Eliezer Schindler, "Tsvishn felder" by Moshe Kulbak, "Di godl un di shpiz" by Eliezer Steinbarg, "Der frimorgn-gang fun mayn mamen" by Israel Ashendorf, "Bizt di umgerikhte dersheynung" by Aaron Nisenzon, "Kinder un majdanek" by Aaron Zeitlin, and "Tsvey zilberne bekher" by H. Leivick, with English introductions.

In the Spring of 1955 she visited the Land of Israel, where she performed in the "Yiddish Comedy Theatre" (staged by her cousin Joseph Lichtenberg), and in the span of five months she acted in three plays across cities and towns, colonies and kibbutzim ("With Open Eyes," "Woman Against Woman," and Goldfaden's "The Witch.") In 1957 she acted in Hollywood, California, on television in the "Matinee Program," written and directed by David Hart.

H. also performed in the radio programs of "Kamf far gloybn" by Kadya Molodovska, the biography of Heinrich Heine by Osip Dymow, and I.J. Singer's "Khaver nakhman," when they were presented on the radio station IVD.

On 10 June 1962 H. graduated from the College of Jewish Studies in Chicago as a scholar in Hebrew.

Sh. E.

  • Sh. Berlinsky-- Dina halpern, "Lodzer veker," 24 July 1931.

  • Teater mensh-- Gastshpilen fun dina halpern un sem gronetsky, "Lodzer folksblat," 12 Nov. 1931.

  • May-- Dina halpern, "Kalisher lebn," Sept. 1932.

  • May-- Fort gezunt!, dort, Nov. 1932.

  • A.I. Grodzensky-- In di hige yidishe teaters, "Di tsayt," Vilna, 12 June 1933.

  • Sh. Ch. [Cohen]-- A sokh zikh lernen un shpiln gut yidish teater, "Viler tog," 25 July 1933.

  • --Kh-- 1-ter oyftrit fun dina halpern un sem bronetsky, "Folksblat," Kovno, 14 August 1933.

  • Jacobi-- Dina halpern, "Di yidishe shtime," Kovno, 28 August 1933.

  • Jacobi-- Derfolgreykhe dina halpern-forshtelung, dort, 4 February 1934.

  • A-h-- Fun yidishn teater, "Folks-tsaytung," Warsaw, 29 October 1934.

  • N.M. [Maisel]-- Dina halpern in mata hari, "Literarishe bleter," Warsaw, 51, 1934.

  • S. Wagman-- Dina Halpern, "Nasz Przeglad," Warszawa, July 23, 1935.

  • Elchanan Zeitlin-- "Makhatunim," "Unzer ekspres," Warsaw, 7 October 1935.

  • Aaron Zeitlin-- Kol yisroel-- makhatunim, dort, October 1935.

  • J. Pat-- Veyte "makhatunim," "Naye folkstsaytung," Warsaw, 13 October 1935.

  • M. K[amfer] "Spadkobierca 2 Pinczowa," "Nowy Dziennik," Krakow, March 8, 1936.

  • Z. Segalowitz-- Rukhl holtzer un dina halpern, "Moment," Warsaw, 12 October 1936.

  • N.M.-- Ershte oyffirung inm "teater far yungt," "Literarishe bleter," Warsaw, N' 11, 1937.

  • A foygl [I.M. Neiman]-- A vikhtik kultur-geshehenish in varshe, "Haynt," 9 March 1937.

  • Dina Halpern-- Sztuka Byla mi Drogowskazcm, "Swiat Filmu," Warsaw, No. 5, 1937.

  • M. Kitay-- Dina halpern inderheym, "Yidishe bilder," Riga, N' 7, 1938.

  • Y. Dankin [Rosenberg]-- Di kishufmakherin, "Nayer folksblat," Lodz, 21 April 1938.

  • I. Sh. Prenowitz-- Di yidishe aktrise dina halpern, velkhe iz ersht gekumen un poyln, "Forward," N.Y., 20 Sept. 1938.

  • Efrim Auerbach-- Dina halpern's ershter oyftrit, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 26 Oct. 1938.

  • Ab. Cahan-- Dina halpern in ir ershten aroystrit in amerike, "Forward," N.Y., 28 Oct. 1938.

  • William Edlin-- Dina halpern un sem bronetsky in der piese  "mit ofene oygn" in sekond evenyu teater," "Der tog," N.Y., 28 Oct. 1938.

  • William Edlin-- Dina halpern's triumf in di "dray tekhter," vos men shpilt in sekond evenyu teater, dort, 2 Dec. 1939.

  • Wm. Edlin-- "Fargesene froyen"-- a naye, geshpante melodrame efent sezon in hopkinson teater, dort, 20 Oct. 1940.

  • Dr. A. Elkin-- Dina halpern, "Der yidisher kurier," Chicago, 18 Feb. 1944.

  • Y. Siegel-- Dina halpern velkhe shpilt in doglas park teater, "Forward," Chicago, 22 February 1944.

  • Sh. Zamd-- "Yesoymim fun der gas" in doglas park teater, dort, Chicago, 25 February 1944.

  • A. M-n [Dr. A. Margolin]-- Der triumf fun a kinstlerin, "Der yidisher kurier," Chicago, 25 Feburary 1944.

  • Dr. Mordechai Katz-- Haynt, dort, 2 March 1944.

  • A. M-n-- Letste forshtelungen fun der groyser tragikerin dina halpern in shikago, dort, 10 March 1944.

  • Gershon Einbinder-- A talantful yidishe aktrise mit a groyse teatralishn yikhus, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 10 Sept. 1945.

  • Jay Greyson-- A grus fun yidishen teater in europe, "Forward," N.Y., 18 Oct. 1946.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig-- Vi yidishe aktoren shpilen teater in khrub-er eruope, "Morning Journal," N.Y., 31 Oct. 1946.

  • Sh. Zamd-- "Mit ofene oygn" in doglas park teater, "Forward," Chicago, 14 February 1947.

  • Louis Zara-- Dina Halpern Does "A Cornell" in Yiddish Play, Chicago Times," Feb. 19, 1947.

  • Z. Vasertsug-- In teater "mitre" zigt gerekhtikeyt, "Di yidishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 23 March 1947.

  • S. Beilin [Dr. L. Zhitnitsky]-- Debut fun dina halpern, "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 23 March 1947.

  • Mark Turkow-- Di yerush'te fun a groyser teater-traditsye, "Folksblat," Montevideo, 23 April 1947.

  • Yardana Fein-- Dina halpern--a merkvirdike froyen geshtalt, "Der veg," Buenos Aires, 25 April 1947.

  • Sh. R. {Rozhansky]-- "Di modelke," a spektakl mit funken fun prekhtiger operete, "Di Yidishe tsaytung," Buenos Aires, 8 June 1947.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky-- Shtrikhn, dort, 3 August 1947.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky-- Der yidisher teater-sezon fun b. aires in 1947, dort, 31 Dec. 1947.

  • Julius Adler-- 60 yor oyf der yidisher bine, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 19 Feb. 1948.

  • Betty Walker-- No Man's Land, "Chicago Sun-Times," Dec. 23, 1948.

  • Ralph Habas-- New Anna Lucasta Versions Still tops, "Chicago Sun-Times," Dec. 27, 1948.

  • Sh. Zamd-- Dina halpern in "ana lukasta," in yidishen teater, "Forward," Chicago, 31 Dec. 1948.

  • William Leonard-- A Dinamic "Anna Lucasta" in Yiddish is Breaking West Side Records, "Chicago Journal of Commerce," Jan. 5, 1949.

  • S.B. Komaiko-- Dina Halpern's Superb Acting May Help Rejuvenate the Yiddish Stage, "The Sentinel," Chicago, Jan. 20, 1949.

  • Y. Siegel-- Fun vanen nemt zikh der groyser erfolg fun "ana lukasta" in doglas park teater, "Forward," Chicago, 28 January 1949.

  • Y. Siegel-- "Di kleyne fuksen" gut geshpilt in doglas park theater, dort, 27 Dec. 1949.

  • Ed Orloff-- "Little Foxes" Boosts Yiddish Theatre Stock, "Chicago Sun-Times," Dec. 27, 1949.

  • Meyer Zolotareff-- Dina Halpern Stars in "Little Foxes," "Chicago Herald-American," Dec. 29, 1949.

  • T. Beilin-- Dina halpern tsu ir debut in "mitre," "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 15 April 1952.

  • Omul de pe Strada-- Lumen Spune ca, "Vointa," Tel Aviv, March 25, 1955.

  • Y. Brand-- Dina halpern, "Letste nayes," Tel Aviv, 28 March 1955.

  • A. Sh. Yuris-- Dina halpern, "Naye velt," Tel Aviv, 24 June 1955.

  • Ter.-- Z Otwartymi Oczyma, "Nowimi Porimme," Tel Aviv, April 12, 1955.

  • Ica Abramovici-- Avron, "Mit oOfene Oign," "Vointa," Tel Aviv, April 15, 1955.

  • B.A.-- Dina halpern: "Khlmti lbua lishrael," "Hbukr," Tel Aviv, 15 April 1955.

  • (Z.)-- "Mit ofene oygn" fun leib melakh, gastshpil fun dina halpern, "Unzer haynt Tel Aviv, 15 April 1955.

  • Ter.-- "Kobieta Przeciw Kobiecie," Nowimy Israelskie," Tel Aviv, June 6, 1955.

  • S. Amu-- Eine Bildshoene Hexe," "Neueste Nachrichten," Tel Aviv, July 8, 1955.

  • I.B. Davidowitz--Triumph of o Yiddish Actress, "The Jerusalem Post," July 15, 1955.

  • Y. Dorin-- Di kishufmakherin, "Letste nayes," Tel Aviv, 15 July 1955.

  • Asher Nhur-- Bnuf "hmkhshfh" haidit msrutsts "dybbuk" evri.... "Idieut akhrunut," Tel Aviv, 12 July 1955.

  • Efrh-- Al ttnu lh llkht, "Dbr hshbue," Tel Aviv, 28 July 1955.

  • A.Sh. Yuris-- Dina halpern-- a shoyshpilerin mit sekhl, "Keneder adler," Monteal, 13 February 1958.

  • [--]-- Dina halpern-- vider tsu gast in israel, "Ilustrirte velt," Tel Aviv, 2, 1958.

  • Shimeon Gn-- Yosef bulof udina halpern, "Amr," Tel Aviv, 4 April 1958.

  • Chone Gottesfeld-- "Vos ikh gedenk fun mayn lebn," Buenos Aires, 1960, pp. 501-503.

  • Zygmunt Turkow-- "Di ibergerisene tkufh," Buenos Aires, 1961, pp. 212-5, 285, 316-21, 330-1, 337, 418-21, 429-31.

  • Danny Newman-- The Yiddish Theatre ("The Sentinel's History of Chicago Jewry," Chicago, 1961, pp. 109-111]






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3167.

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