Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Hertz


Born on 4 May 17776 in Fürth, Bayern, as the son of Hertz Eschwegel. He is portrayed as a teacher of drawing [who] taught calligraphy to the children in the local Talmud Torah. H. remained a student all of this life, lived in isolation and in his circles acquired a name [for himself] as an engraver of vignettes for various former editions.

H. [according to Zalmen Reyzen] was one of the last representatives of the vanished Yiddish literature in Germany, and he had composed a Purim-shpiele program with the title of "Esther, oder, Di belohnte tugend. A pose in four sections ,,, in Yiddish-German mundart," which he had issued in 1929 in Fürth (the introduction is dated Cheshvan 5585).

The piece hadn't any artistic value. In the German "Forrvort dez ferfassern," H., he himself a settler, that "diezes works is tsu geringfigig" and "no als eyne belustigende unterhaltung fir mikh betrakhtete, und nor durkh don dringende bitmen meyner froynde mikh entshlas, ez dem drukke tsu ibergeben"; it however is characterized as iberbleybekhts of the kind of Yiddish literature in Germany, which is possible without the curiosity of Yiddish in the eyes of the ostensibly enlightened assimilated language -- before the true literary creativity. With its popular, often entirely trivial humor, H.'s Purim-shpiele  in certain measures a folkloric and even a cultural-historic value, reflecting (in anachronism) some appearances of Jewish life in Germany in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Especially the play is important as a document of Bayernish Yiddish, especially of the old Jewish Fürth community, with its specific dialogue, H. gives over so faithfully.

The play, it appears, had a certain success in the circles for which it was given, and it was published in a second edition (publisher S. B. Gusdorfer, Fürth, 1854, 128 pp., in vayber-teytsh script.) in which there also was included songs and a parody in prose.

  • Zalmen Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 870-2.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. I, p. 58.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 636.

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