This was a sort of stupid vaudeville show in three
acts, "The Art of a Shmendrik" (a fool). In those days I
might have staged it. The truth is that the secret which
the author shared with me forbid me to use this piece.
The secret was that the author of this piece was a
missionary, and he was well known in Bucharest as
such. To my question as to why he did this, the
missionary/author answered, telling me that he had
fallen upon bad times. He said that he and his family
were existing on potato skins. That’s how bad things had
become for him. He couldn’t earn any more from his
position as a school director. Since his newfound God
had offered him ninety francs a month, he had no choice
but to accept the job, as he himself could plainly see.
I could not take on this play to stage it at the opening
of a brand new Yiddish theatre. The audience should not
be able to say that the theatre had converted too.
"He could see that I was correct in this
assumption. None the less the missionary left me in an
angry mood. He swore vengeance upon me. ... He didn’t
take long to think about this, and he asked for amnesty
and two days later he entered a tavern and called for a
quorum of coachmen. He then asked for three barrels of
wine to be brought out and openly converted back to
Judaism. He gave a sermon at that time in which he
declared: Just as your grandfather 'Terah' (The
patriarch Abraham’s father) also served foreign gods,
and the Jews accepted his son Abraham as a sincere Jew,
so too could his descendants be Jewish, and without
having any fear that this would be held against them. As
a sign that his words were exceptional, he wanted that
from then on he should be call 'Moshe ish Horowitz
HaLevy (Moses, son of the man Horowitz the Levite)'. ...
He convinced the local bartender who had a vacant
courtyard to let him build a stage there. He, Horowitz
would pay him a goodly sum every night from his intake.
He also assured him that he could make more from the
theatre than he would from the tavern. He said that this
would more than compensate him for his empty bar. He
also convinced him that he would sell much more beer to
his audience because he (Horowitz) will announce on his
posters that everyone that buys a ticket to his theatre
will give him for free a glass of beer. In this way he
managed to convince the tavern keeper, Hanina, to give
up a certain sum of money upfront which he (Horowitz)
would need for other expenses; the tin to make the
lanterns would cost so much per night, the painter who
will paint the decorations would also charge so much per
night. He mathematically told him how much joy he should
expect to make. He also promised him that he would not
take any money for himself that first night. He said
that he was working to earn credit in the next world ...
According to the theatrical announcements in the
Bucharest newspapers "The Yiddish Telegraph" which
appears in Sh.’s novel which is quoted in the "History
of the Yiddish Theatre and Drama," we can see that
Horowitz opened his theatre after 24 April 1877.
Horowitz put together a new
troupe including his daughter Charlotta, Cesar
Greenberg (later his son-in-law), and others, most of
whom would not remain working on the stage for too long.
He also rehired Abba Shoengold, and they all went out to
play the provinces. In Barlad, a new actress joined
them. This was Chaya Sora, or Clara whom Shoengold
married. After wandering around for a long time
throughout Romania with the actors: Greenberg, Spicer,
Bergman and his wife, Axelrod, Feivele Friedman et al,
Horowitz then went to Galicia, where according to B.
Gorin he and his daughter Charlotta and his son-in-law
[Cesar] Greenberg joined up with Gradner’s company, which was
comprised of Gradner and his wife, Weinblatt, Eskreyz,
Lennard (sp), Hermanel etc. At first they played in the
larger Galician towns and in Romania, where he staged
(according to Blank) his play "Eliyahu," and after that
(12 July 1882) they performed in the Ring Theatre in
Vienna. The Yiddish actors received no great honors from
the public, and the troupe fell apart. After a short
visit to Odessa where he performed as an actor in
Shomer’s "Dos protsentnik (The Usurer)," Horowitz
returned back to Galicia and joined an established
troupe: Greenberg and his wife, Axelrod, Kalmen Juvelier
and his wife (Yetta Deitch), and Yetta Samuilov (later
known as Schorr). Shortly afterwards he went to
Budapest, where he used up the money that his employees
gave him to guard. He was arrested but ran away very
soon thereafter to Constantinople, and from there to
London. He arrived approximately there in 1886. After a
short period of time he traveled to America.
In New York they were staging his play, "Tisa eslar,"
(music by Mogulesko. The role of Dr. Edvish was played
by the author), which he wrote while he was still in
M. Seifert who attended the opening night of the play
wrote: "Overall this play had very little literary worth
since the historical facts that occur in it were, by and
large, false and taken out of the clouds. However, the
play was a box-office success. The reasons for their
success was that, first of all, the cast performed very
well, and secondly the music was excellent (here Seifert
claims that the composer was not Mogulesko, but Gabriel
Finkelstein.) Thirdly the events surrounding Tisa
Eslar’s blood libel were still fresh (A young girl in
Hungary was beheaded. The Jews were accused of using her
blood for making matzo, and as a result a pogrom
Ab. Cahan wrote about the presentation: "Professor
Horowitz played the accused man, and it was very
apparent that he not only spoke from a written script,
but that he was talking directly to us. For
three-quarters of an hour he spoke, and he managed to
leave out nothing. He spoke in 'Deitshmerish'
(Germanized Yiddish). At the next performance he gave an
altogether different lecture."
B. Gorin wrote about this: "This was the one and only
play on the Yiddish stage that was accompanied by a
serialized talk that was not scripted (the play in the
first of the series was called, "Tisa Eslar, or, the
Oath," a play in five acts and fifteen scenes. The
second of the series was "Der protzes fun tisa eslar
(The Tisa Eslar Trial)," in four acts and twelve
In "Tisa Eslar" Horowitz wanted to create a great
sensation, a drama that would grab everyone’s attention.
The libel of Tisa Eslar at that time was fresh in the
minds of everyone. Every Jew was interested in this
libel. This was a true-to-life issue. The success of
this play showed him that with such material it was
possible to interest the public. So that when a national
catastrophe, or a national misfortune arose, he took
advantage of it to stage a drama."
Jacob Mestel tells us that in 1913 he saw in Pomul Verde
in Iasi (directed by Ashkenazi and Leresko) where they
performed the play "Tisa Eslar." This time the play was
performed in an abridged format (a one-evening play and
not as a series). It had great box-office success.
Horowitz’s second play was "Shloyme hamelekh, oder, Di
libe oys shir hashirim, in 5 akts, 15 bilder mit prolog
un epilog" (King Solomon, or, The Love from the Song of
Songs, in five acts, fifteen scenes with a prologue and
an epilogue). With this play there began -- according to
B. Gorin -- the most important aspect of the plays that
Horowitz ever provided for the Yiddish stage: a
"historical operetta." This play was once again a great
success. Due to the competition between the two Yiddish
theatres at that time in New York, the second theatre
presented a similar play "Mishpat shloyme (Solomon’s
Judgment)," by the well-established dramatist Joseph
M. Zeifert, who attended the opening night, wrote:
"After 'Tisa Eslar' they presented an opera at the
Roumanian Opera House, "Shloyme hamelekh (King
Solomon)." This play had a great success, mainly because
on the music, rather than the content of the opera
itself, which resembled the book "M’gurat Ha’m’aut (The
Lamppost)" and could not be compared to a cheap novel.
The composer Horowitz Halevy in "Shloyme hamelekh"
dragged into the second act, as if yanked by the hair,
the historic drama "Balthazar," which had no connection
to the play."
After "Shloyme hamelekh," which they presented in the
Roumanian Opera House in 1887, they staged Horowitz’s "Yehuda
un yisroel, oder, Shma Yisroel, historische operetta in
4 aktn (Judah and Israel, or, Hear O Israel)," a historic
operetta in four acts. Some portions of this play were
translated, and others were reworked from the German
play, "Di tzvey serjshantn (The Two Sergeants)."
In the same year (1887), and at the same theatre, they
staged Horowitz’s "Don yosef abarbanel (Don Josef
Abarbanel)," in four acts (music by Gabriel
Finkelstein), which Horowitz -- according to B. Gorin
-took from Katzaboi’s play (a play that Horowitz wrote
because the competitive theatre was playing Reuben
Weismann’s play, "Don Yitzhak Abarbanel."
About "Don Josef Abarbanel, Zeifert wrote: "Finklestein
and Mogulesko wrote wonderful music, but it was not
successful. It was somewhat flat, but yet full of good
rhymes such as "Make me a summer guest." The character
Abarbanel does not appear in this play. What it does
have is a somewhat crazy character who roams aimlessly
around the stage. He was half-Cossack and a third
Indian. "Professor" Horowitz, with much argument, donned
a small prayer shawl on him. He instructed him to scream
out, "I am Abarbanel!"
"In that same year (1887) -- M. Zeifert wrote -- In the
"Roumanian Opera House," they staged a new play by
Horowitz Halevy called "Shabse Zvi" (the false messiah
in Turkey in the seventeenth century). Though the name
was of no importance and certainly had nothing to do
with the subject of the play, we must say it was one of
the best comedies in the Yiddish theatrical repertoire.
As far as we know, this was the one and only original
play that Horowitz Halevy ever wrote. (According to B.
Gorin this was a liberal adaptation of Aaron
Halle-Wolfsohn’s "Liechtzin und Fremelay" (Frivolity and
Abandonment). In this play we find true Jewish types and
character presented with great talent. This was an
honest depiction of Chasidic life.
The play did not succeed because at that time they
hadn’t nurtured an audience that could appreciate it.
The audiences at that time looked only for a cynical
couplet, a little dance and over-the-top decorations.
All this was lacking in the play 'Shabse Zvi.' In it we
could find a great deal of Talmudic humor. But the
audience did not understand it. ... A few years later
Horowitz reworked it completely (perhaps he even
destroyed it altogether). From La Donje’s play, 'Mayn
Leopold (My Leopold),' they removed the character of the
music teacher as though with nails. He then pieced him
into his new play 'Shabse Zvi.' "
The competition between the theatres indicated both
theatres were struggling. The hatred that one theatre
had for the other -- Gorin wrote -- grew bigger and
bigger. The more hatred they expressed, the sharper it
grew. The theatres were not satisfied that one had
stolen a play, or the contents of a play from the other.
The bitter competition between them was beyond repair.
The directors of the two theatres put out posters in
which they made bitter accusations about the other. The
best output of each theatre was to discredit the other.
Aside from the posters they gave talks from the stage
and poured hot embers and dirt one upon the other. They
created special couplets that they squeezed into their
plays. In these couplets they poked fun at the
performers in the other theatre."
The stories about the troupe in the "Roumanian Opera
House" became so vicious that a number of the actors
decided in the middle of the summer to stage several
plays in order to raise funds that would enable them to
travel back to Europe. At that same time there began a
movement among the newly arrived immigrants to establish
"landsmanshaftn" [societies for people from the same
hometowns or regions] in different organizations, which
were concerned with supporting Jewish workers, and to
purchase cemetery plots for their members. Horowitz
conceived a plan for a similar organization called "Dovids
harpe (David’s Harp)," which would combine pleasure and
social aid. For a one dollar enrollment fee in "David’s
Harp," and for two dollars membership fee -- every
member also received tickets to the Yiddish theatre.
After the member’s death, his widow would receive
Soon a committee was formed, and this committee -- wrote
Ab. Cahan -- named professor Horowitz Halevy as the
executive director. Accompanied by a theatrical choir
they would travel from lodge to lodge. Wherever he went
he held a lecture in German about King David in the
Bible with his Godlike harp. ... After his talk the
choir would sing one of the psalms of David and his
harp. The audience was so moved that they didn’t ask any
questions, and two-dollar bills were falling like snow."
In the course of a short time, "David’s Harp" had
nine-hundred members, and it is to the credit of the
organization that they put together a gala-performance
in Poole’s Theatre (8th Street and 3rd Avenue), with a
magnificent parade through the streets of New York,
which Gorin describes in this manner: "On the day of the
parade, East Broadway (The Jewish neighborhood in New
York), as well as the surrounding streets was full of
people. Some of the members were provided with horses.
At the head of the parade marched M. Horowitz, with two
women in white dresses accompanying him and proudly
holding on to his arms. The procession began with the
joyful sound of music. The longer and thicker the parade
stretched out, the bigger and thicker the crowd grew.
With a great sense of achievement. the members marched
into the theatre. There they honored Horowitz by
bringing him to the stage."
While the speakers in the theatre delivered speech after
speech it entered into everyone’s mind that such an
event could only be conceived by a great "professor."
Since then -- says Sholem Perlmutter -- the founder of
the organization began to be called 'professor.' "
Horowitz together with a certain Mr. Shreiber, under the
auspices of the newly founded organization "David’s
Harp" booked the Poole's Theatre for the season of
1887-1888. They brought in a troupe to rent the theatre.
There on the celebration of the opening, they presented
Horowitz’s play, "David’s Harp," named for the newly
formed organization. The play in Poole's Theatre was
extraordinarily performed. After the years of drought,
now the actors started to live it up. Horowitz’s plan to
unite the theatres with an organizational plan worked
out very well. They played old familiar plays and the
theatre was completely full.
Later in the season (1887-1888) they presented
Horowitz’s new play, "Di tzigaynerin" (The Gypsy Girl)."
However, the story changed immediately. B. Gorin wrote:
"M. Horowitz, the initiator of the plan, which when it
first came out appeared to be so worthy, was later seen
to be thoroughly obsessed with the idea that the theatre
was not suited for this plan. Since this plan was
created for the theatre, and since he was the theatre,
the plan should have been identified so that it showed
that it was created for him. For this reason he wanted
to receive a high position in the plan, and to be known
as its owner. With this he brought in other proprietors,
a quiet battle ensued and very soon thereafter a real
war with people being arrested and going to jail. Though
it seldom happened, it did occur twice in the same week.
As a result they had to change the staff in charge of
the cashier box. . . . "And "David’s Harp" which was
founded with a blare of pipes and trumpets was finished
with Horowitz, no longer the chief cook."
(From a letter to the editor, "The People are
Awakening," No. 13, November 1888, in his own voice,
Mogulesko speaks out:
Horowitz has begun to drift to different theatres. In
the old days -- according to B. Gorin -- he wrote the
play "Sultan Muhammad, or Sacrifice, a play in
five acts and nine scenes" -- that was performed in
1888, "Ami un Naomi, oder, Rabiner, soldat un nihilist"
(Ami and Naomi, or, The Reformed Rabbi, Soldier and
Nihilist)," and "Kiddush Hashem um Rosh Hashanah, oder,
Di vahrzogerin," historishe melodrama in 5 aktn
(Martyrdom at Rosh Hashanah, or, The Fortune Teller)," a
historical melodrama in five acts, staged in 1889.
According to Sholem Perlmutter ,Horowitz at first went
to the Oriental Theatre, and immediately after he went
over to the Poole's Theatre, where in 1889 he staged his
new play "Kapitalistn un arbiter (Capitalists and
Workers)," and "Eliyahu Hanovi, oder, Der millyoner un
betler, fantastishe operetta in 5 aktn un prolog (Eliyahu
the Prophet, or, The Millionaire and the Beggar)," a
fantasy operetta in five acts and a prologue. Both
In 1880 Horowitz staged in the Thalia Theatre his
"Picture in the News," "Der mabul fun yonstown (The
Johnstown Flood)" (Yohan Pally had written a play with
the same name for the Thalia Theatre). According to B.
Gorin -- the play: "Shimshon Hagibor’ (Samson the Hero),"
a historical operetta, and "Dovid ben yishai, oder, Der
nokhfolger fun shaul, hist. oper. in 5 aktn (David, Son
of Jesse, or, The Obedient Follower of Shaul)," hist. oper.
In five acts.
In 1891, according to B. Gorin -- they staged Horowitz’s
"Nebukhdanetzer melekh babel, oder, Daniel in laybengrub,
a hist. oper. (Nebuchadnezar, King of Babylon, or,
Daniel in the Lions Den)," a historical operetta. In 1892 -- Di
heldn fun hamster, a tzayt bild (The Hero of Hamster)," a
time capsule, "Bas Cohen, oder, Malka Alexandra (The
Priest’s Daughter, or, Queen Alexander)," and "Odem un
Khava, oder, Der farloyrener gan-eyden (Adam and Eve, or
The Lost Paradise)."
In 1892 -- "Di heldn fun
hamster (The Heroes of Hamster)," a time capsule, "Bas
Cohen, oder, Alexandra HaMalka (Cohen’s Daughter, or,
Alexandra the Queen)," and "Odem un khava, oder, Der
farloyrner gan eydn (Adam and Eve, or, Paradise Lost)"
-- and in 1893 "Yehuda haglili, oder, Der first fun
yerushalayim" (Judah of Galilee, or, The Prince of
Jerusalem)," "Di akeyde, oder, Printz fun bais lekhem
(The Binding of Isaac, or, The Prince of Bethlehem)," a
biblical opera in four acts and twelve scenes,
music by Mogulesko and Friedsell, opened 25 September
in the "Windsor" Theatre, "Muter-libe (Mother Love)," "Rabeynu
gershom, oder, Keyser bazillus der tsveyterr (Rabbi
Gershom, or, Kaiser Basilius II)." On 12 January 1894 --
"Monte kristo" (An adaptation of the Dumas novel), and
in the same year, "Di blumike hokhtsayt in katarina’s
tsaytn (The Flowering Marriages in Katerina’s Times),
and "De karbones fun shlekhte tsaytn (The Sacrifices in
Bad Times)." In 1895 -- "Yoyne HaNovi, oder, Di rayse
durch vaser and fayer (Jonah the Prophet, or, The
Journey Through water and Fire)," a fantasy-biblical
operetta in four acts. Bessie Thomashefsky tells us in
her memoirs: "Jonah the Prophet was supposed to be a
real bomb because we advertised that we would have a
live fish that would swallow Jonah. ... But, when it
came time to be swallowed, the fish choked. Furthermore
we staged: "Karlayl Harry’s tsayt bild (Carlisle Harry’s
Time Capsule)," "Avraham avinu in kalkh oyvn (Abraham
Our Father in the Lime Oven)," in four acts and eight
scenes, and "Der kuzari, oder, Di yidishe melukhe in
kavkaz (The Khazars, or, The Jewish Kingdom in the
Bessie Thomashefsky tells: " ... We put together a new
play with a singing role, written especially for Regina
Prager and composed by Professor Horowitz. The play was
called 'Kuzari' (The Khazars), and the music was by
Sigmund Mogulesko. ... Here the Jewish press made a
commotion regarding a scandal about a certain couplet
that Bergstein sang in the play "Kuzari." ... Well, you
can imagine that not too many children died from this
song. But morality is morality, and a certain newspaper
poured out its rage upon Professor Horowitz for the
desecration of God’s name.
Professor Horowitz became
exceedingly angry about this critique, but he had his
revenge with the newspaper from the stage. He lectured
and showing photos from a museum in Paris, he said:
"Look, good people, see for yourselves that in Paris in
the museum there are nude pictures and statues. What’s
more the nakedness does not bother anyone. The pictures
are art, and true art is nude." "Khazari" gained very
much from this issue. The play ran for almost fourteen
weeks, which was a great success. The outcome was an
outstanding reception for the play."
According to B. Gorin -- In 1896 they staged Horowitz’s
"B’nai moishe, oder, Di yidn un bine" (The Children of
Moses, or, The Jews in the Theatre)" and "Brokheh, oder,
Der yidishe kenig fun poyln oyf eyn nakht (A Blessing,
or, The Jewish King of Poland on One Night," 18 August
Boris Thomashefsky, who had once performed in this play
(for which they wrote the song "Eli, Eli," music by J.
Sandler) wrote: "This piece by itself was a cheap trick;
it was a translation from either Romanian or German. One
scene was unconnected to the other. We all made fun of
the play, of our roles, of the music and anything else
we could poke fun at. However, we could see how crazy
the audience was for it. They arrived in droves, night
after night, to the theatre in order to see this play "Brokheh."
In that same year they also staged Horowitz’s "Barney
barnata, a lebnsbild (Barnay Barnata)," a life portrait,
"K’sav toyreh, oder, Der rambam in egypt (Biblical
Writings, or, Maimonides in Egypt)," and "Meri berberi,"
a tsayt bild (Merry Barbary)," a time capsule. In 1897
-- "Kuba, oder, General matzeybus heldntatn (Cuba, or,
General Matsebus’ Heroic Father)," a time capsule in
four acts, "Dr. buchanan, a tsaytbild (Dr. Buchanan)," a
time capsule, "Eretz yisroel libe, oder, Der rebbe un
der tsar (Love for The Land of Israel, or, the Rabbi and
the Tsar)," "Noakh’s tayve, oder, Der sindike dor
hamabul" (Noah’s Ark, or, The Sinning Generation of the
Flood)," a biblical historical operetta in four acts,
twelve scenes, "A yidishe neshome, oder, Oysgevaksen in
cloister (A Jewish Soul, or, Growing Up in a Convent),"
a semi-historical time capsule in four acts, "Bais
yankev avinu, oder, Shimon un levi achim" (The House of
Jacob Our Father, or, The Brothers Simon and Levi),"
"Dos lebn in klondayk, a tsaytbild (Life in the
Klondike)," a time capsule. "Thorn and Mrs. Knack," and
"Yephat toar, oder, Balaam harasha (Japhet Beauty,
or, Balaam the Wicked), a fantasy operetta in five acts.
In 1898 -- "Yehoshua ben nun, oder, Der fal fun yerikho
(Joshua Son of Nun, or, The Fall of Jericho)," a
historical operetta. "Di spanishe karbones (The Spanish
Sacrifices)," in four acts. "Yekhezkiyahu ha’melekh,
oder, Di rayse fun kavkaz (King Hezekiah, or, The
Journey from Caucasia)," a historical operetta in four
acts, and "Kapitan dreyfus, oder, Geheymenise fun pariz"
(Captain Dreyfus, or, The Parisian Secret), in four acts
and seventeen scenes. In 1899 -- "Di heldn fun santayana,
oder, Patriatisms un libe" (The heroes of Santayana, or,
Patriotism and Love)," a time capsule, "Nikdimon ben
gurion, oder, Dos gliklikhe pastukh (Nicodemus the Son
of Gurion, or, The Happy Shepherd)," "Dreyfus, oder,
Tsum tzvaytn mol farrteylt un dokh umshuldik (Dreyfus,
or, The Second Time Found Guilty, Though Innocent)," and
"Hokhmas noshim (The Wisdom of Women)," a historical
operetta (adapted from the German play "Di hekste (The
Witch)." 1900 -- "Zikhus oves, oder, Rav fredriker un
galakh (The Privilege of the Fathers, or, Fredrick and
the Priest)," a life capsule operetta, and "Der
meshugener filozof (The Crazy Philosopher),"
B. Gorin wrote about those times: The story of the staff
writers grew worse and worse with each passing year.
Their concern might as well have been ignored. Latayner
was almost buried alive by the theatre, and as for
Horowitz, he fought with his last strength. His plays
were cancelled one after the other. Till now, by chance,
he relied on privileges based upon earlier successes; he
was no longer merely a participant. It appears that
Horowitz lost the pulse of the theatre-goer and could no
longer feel it. Over the years it often occurred that a
piece that he presented on a Friday would be buried by
Saturday. In the theatre they never imagined that this
could happen overnight; his plays, clever or foolish,
good or bad, died. The guilt was blamed upon the two
authors. It was decided that Horowitz would have the
same fate as his colleague, Latayner." However, Horowitz
and Heine had taken over the Windsor Theatre, and
Horowitz was leaving for Romania to bring over new
actors (Kalmen Juvelier, Peter Graf, Jacob Silbert,
Samuel Rosenstein, A. Shrage, etc.) --According to B.
Gorin, this prolonged Horowitz’s place in the theatre.
This happened at a time when there seemed to be nothing
left to do. ... Horowitz became more stubborn than he
had been in the past (in the Windsor). Now they played
the same sort of pieces for which he was so well known.
Here they still performed the historical operettas, as
in the years gone by, and as if nothing had changed.
What’s more, this theatre was full of imported actors
who were completely unfamiliar with the new spirit of
the Yiddish stage in America."
B. Gorin wrote further on this subject: "In the Windsor
Theatre they staged (September-October 1901) "Ben hador
(Son of the Generation)" by M. Horowitz. "Ben hador, a
historical operetta in four acts by Professor M.
Horowitz, music by Perlmutter and Wohl, (Pietrkow, 1907,
60 pp.)" (The Yiddish Stage Publishing House). The
result was something the likes of which had not been
seen for years. We played "Ben hador" twenty-three weeks
without stopping, meaning three quarters of the season.
... "Ben hador" was not a new play. Years before M.
Horowitz directed it under a different name. At that
time it was called "Yehezkiayu ha’melekh (Hezekiah the
King)," and it failed. Even if he had improved it, it
would not have had a great following. Because, if not
for rainy weather, no one could attract the locals to
The extraordinary success of "Ben hador" was caused by
an altogether different factor. This was the year that
Jews were chased out of Romania, and many of them came
to New York. These exiled wanderers found in the Windsor
Theatre a depiction of the poverty that had been
imported from Romania by Horowitz. Here in the Windsor
Theatre they found all of their favorite Romanian actors
that they had supported in Iasi in Brailia, in Galati,
in Bucharest. In the course of many long years they came
to the Windsor Theatre as though it was an old familiar
theatre. For them "Ben hador" was perfect because they
could see nothing better than a play that had failed
years before, but now could endure for three-quarters of
the season. The story unfolded and no one could tell
what was actually happening. But the theatre-goers began
to demand in loud voices to bring back the old authors
(Horowitz and Latayner), and to completely remove
realistic dramas from the stage."
In that same year (1901) -- according to B. Gorin --
they also staged Horowitz’s "Di mezinke, oder, Di
taleysim veber (The Youngest Daughter, or, The Prayer
Shawl Weavers)." In 1902 (March) "Di tsvey tnoyim (The
Two Conditions)," a historical operetta, "Der fayer
mabul, oder, Di yidn in sent pi’er, a lebnsbild (The
Fire Flood, or, The Jews in St. Pierre, a portrait of
life)," "Yankev un esau, a bib. opereta (Jacob and Esau),"
a biblical operetta, and "Der lodgen president, a
gezang drame (The President of the Lodge)," a musical
drama. " In 1904, "Di b’nai yisroel, oder, Di vayse un
shvartse yidn – Di farloyrene aseres shvotim (The Sons
of Israel, or, The White and Black Jews -- The Lost Ten
Tribes)," a historical operetta." "Katzaps mapalah, oder,
Yapan der shaliakh fun Got (Russia’s Downfall, or,
Japan, God’s Emissary)," a time capsule, and "Khurbn
kishinev, a tsayt bild (The Kishinev Pogrom)," a time
For his third season Horowitz sought to save his
theatre, transforming it into an opera house. He brought
over a company of singers from Europe. He brought them
to the Windsor Theatre to perform operas. He himself
could not imagine that he, as the author, was writing
his own death certificate. The reason being that even if
this undertaking was successful, he himself as a drama
writer no longer could claim a connection to this
change. But he had no choice. He could see the path of
the evolution of his dramas, and he came to the
conclusion that on the Yiddish stage there was no place
remaining for the sort of plays that he and his
colleagues wrote. This was the last season that he would
be involved with the theatre. The undertaking with the
opera that season was a failure. He lost his last penny.
In truth, he never had any money -- he spent everything
he earned. He finally became paralyzed, apparently, from
According to a list by B. Gorin the following plays by
Horowitz continued to be performed: "Ozer layzer, getzil
michel," (adapted from Goldfaden’s "Recruits)," "Eliyahu
hanovi, shlof mitzl (Elijah the Prophet, a Slumber
Cap)," "Opgekumener oysher (Sudden Wealth)"; also "Vister
inzel (Deserted Island)," and "Di veshn (The
(After Goldfaden’s "Kaprizne
tokhter (The Capricious Daughter)," "Der farkoyfte shlep
(The Purchased Sleep)," "Etliyahu, (adapted from Rassin),"
printed without the knowledge of the author, under the
name "Etliyahu, oder, Di krehnung fun kenig Yoash (Etliyahu,
or, The Crowing of King Yoash)," a biblical play in four
acts by Moshe Ish HaLevi Horowitz, issued by the
publishing house of Aharon Foist, bookseller in Krakow,
1903, 30 pages), Der hoyzirer (The Peddler)," "Unkeles
ha’ger (Onkelos the Convert)," "Bais dovid (The House of
David)" (David son of Jesse) (printed without the
authors knowledge under the name "Bais Dovid (the
Lineage of David), a historical operetta in four acts by
M. Horowitz, music by Perlmutter, (Podgurze, publishing
house of Benjamin Munk, Lemberg, 56 pages), "Hadassah"
(according to B. Gorin in the introduction to "The
History of Yiddish Theatre," this play first appeared
under the name of "Shloyme Gorgle," written by Y.
Latayner), "Amoretz (The Ignoramus)," "Yishayahu hanovi
(Isaiah the Prophet)," "Der feter in amerika (The
American Uncle)," "Columbus," "Washington," "Dos
poylishe m’lamedl (The Little Polish Teacher),"
"Alexander mukdon (Alexander the Macedonian)," "Der
toyter kop (The Dead Head)," Der Baron Hirsch (Baron
Hirsch)," "Baron Rothschild," Boss un arbiter (Boss and
Worker)," "Der shvuger fun America (The American
Brother-in-Law)," "Di yidn fun vurms (The Jews of
Worms)," "Dr. Herzl" and "Mariana."
The larger number of Horowitz’s plays were edited by
prompters or actors and brought to Europe, where for
many years they were the first choice in the European
theatrical repertoires. In America they printed a small
collection of Horowitz’s songs, Horowitz’s operetta, "Der
meshugener filozof (The Crazy Philosopher)" (published
by the Hebrew Publishing Company).
For several years Horowitz ,who was paralyzed, was far
removed from the theatre. He was brought to Montefiore
Hospital. On the 4th of March 1910 Horowitz died alone
and deserted. His funeral to which a small number of
actors and theatrical people attended took place in a
stable on Huston Street.
B. Gorin characterized Horowitz’s dramatic activity: "
... Yosef Latayner and Moshe Horowitz, in Romania and
Russia had very little creative output, but in their new
home in America, the entire Yiddish stage was in their
hands. With their privileged position they controlled
theatre in their new country. They cleared the way in
America for the Yiddish theatre. They siphoned off
almost all the plays till the end of the eighties. They
placed their stamp upon the Yiddish theatre in its new
home. ... As an actor, Horowitz obviously saw what the
audience wanted, what they enjoyed, and what made them
lick their fingers. Apart from this he also knew what
made the actor happy and what upset him. ... It is
possible that in his first years he didn’t recognize his
capabilities, but eventually he believed that he was
endowed with a talent to write dramas. Later he realized
that he didn’t have the talent he thought he had. As an
accomplished tradesman he knew how to make allowances
for dramatic moments, where there had to be a laugh or a
bang. He knew when an actor could not go onto the stage
without embarrassing himself. The actor had to be given
his just praise, so that he too can have his 'bravo.' He
refined acting much like a tailor makes a suit. ... He
created a plan for the drama, and for each and every
scene, so that his work was complete.
When it came to actually writing each scene he would say
to himself: I can’t write the scene, for this one must
have talent. But this must not be an obstacle; there
have also been and there still are plenty of famous
writers among the gentiles who demonstrated great
talent. All that I have to do is to look for similar
scenes in their work and borrow what I need.
M. Horowitz had a rich library. He knew German and
Romanian and when necessary, let us say in a love scene,
he blended a non-Jewish drama that had a similar scene
he rewrote or adapted it and stuck in into his play ...
As a professional dramatist he knew he couldn’t give his
Jewish audience a non-Jewish play. He didn’t possess the
talent to write original Jewish plays. So he made his
plays appear outwardly to be Jewish. In truth they were
neither Jewish nor non-Jewish.
Many of his plays were reworked by Horowitz in the same
manner as Y. Latayner and the other Jewish dramatists
that wrote in those days. He took a whole non-Jewish
work, changed all the names for Yiddish ones, he threw
out the details of their lives and stuck in comic
characters according to the same methods used by
Latayner and other Jewish writers. ... Often when we
review one of Horowitz’s plays it’s difficult to say who
the author was. It’s true that the author might be
Latayner or Feinman or Horowitz, or someone else
altogether from one of these authors. Most of these
playwrights were poured out of the same mold. You can
see that the characters on the stage were not real
people. Their words didn’t hang together. The actions
were competing with one another, and suddenly you are
amazed to hear a stiff character on the stage speaking
in an amazingly sophisticated manner that forces you to
pick up your nose and your ears. ... Where are words
that touch your soul and which strike the strings of
your heart. In such a manner Horowitz’s touches you. As
far as the other dramatists are concerned, they can’t
make you feel the same way.
In Horowitz’s plays, which are constructed in this
method you often can encounter a scene where they
capture true human feelings. These are the scenes where
his feelings are dragged along with his subject. But
these scenes do not usually impact those people without
understanding. Imagine that Michal the tailor becomes
jealous of his wife Chaika, but instead of writing a
jealous scene between Michal and his Chaika, the author
borrows a jealousy scene from Othello." ... The subject
is often so confusing that most people don’t know what’s
happening on the stage anyway. It’s easy to see that
this scene does not completely fit the story line of the
play. This scene exists unto itself and does not match
the rest of the play.
"The plays that Horowitz wrote need to be divided into
three groups: Historical, Everyday life, and time
capsules. With this we see a new accomplishment.
Horowitz was the first to write time capsules. ... The
time capsules he wrote were differently from his other
plays. Here he stuck strictly to the facts, almost as
though he was sticking close to all the protocols and
separated them by scenes and acts ...
In his historical plays he did not stick to one method.
He found it necessary to stick to the story line, and
not to digress to the left or to the right. At times it
seemed correct to alter the facts and to change holy
heroes into robbers or bandits e.g. Resh Lakish. At
other times it was right to take a non-Jewish piece from
modern times and to give it a historical name."
Ab. Cahan characterizes him: "These historical operas
were a 'discovery' by 'Professor' Horowitz. They reached
the lowest level of absurdity and tastelessness, to
which the Yiddish theatre could fall. ... However,
Horowitz was the most enlightened person in the
theatrical world and was the enlightened spirit in it.
... It was said the he was a missionary; one of the
actors (Weinblatt, for example) called him to his face
"Professor Convert." He, of course, said this to him in
a joking manner.
"He knew Hebrew and German, and his Yiddish was strongly
Germanized. If he made refinements, no one could argue
with him. If he exerted energy -- they certainly could
not. And as far as an adventurist went, he had no faith
in himself. ... He loved fancy coaches and horses in the
royal European style. It sometimes happened that one day
he didn’t have any food, and today we see him riding in
a fancy horse and carriage with a lackey in full livery,
with golden trimmings ... There were times when his
theatre lost money. The actors suffered from hunger, but
he would be found sitting behind a coachman with
dazzling buttons and gold braidings around his neck and
sleeves, riding through the streets of New York like a
"The content of his plays were mostly taken from German
or Romanian theatrical pieces, or from trashy pieces
from different time and styles. If not he would take a
chapter of Hebrew (Jewish) history and put it together
with a dirty story and add several sleazy bits.
Regarding a systematic or logistical or proportional
approach, he never concerned himself with these. ...
Almost overnight he would come up with a play. It
sometimes happened that in the very evening that a play
had to be presented, but it was not yet ready. Perhaps
it was missing an act, or and an act-and-a-half. This
did not bother him. 'Never mind' he’d say to the actors
-- 'Stand still! We’ll see!' And instead of a fourth
act, he himself would get up on the stage dressed as a
Turkish sultan, for example and would complain about
current world conditions ...
Horowitz was the first to introduce such Yiddish theatre
Leon Korbin wrote: "Regarding their plays, Horowitz and
Latayner had one rule: If the actor had to play a
synagogue caretaker, or a lowly teacher, or just someone
uneducated, he had to first of all be a comedian, and
secondly he had to talk in an idiotic manner. If he had
to play a hero, no matter what his character does, he
must be educated, and he must speak proper German." ...
On the stage Horowitz once reached out to Leon Kobrin.
'We must speak a better and nicer language, not a
pudding-language. We want to gentrify our language and
to make it sound better …' " Regarding the musical
montages for Horowitz’s plays, A. Frumkin repeats
Rumshinksy’s interpretation: "The music for those
historical operettas was taken in total from existing
operas. In the operetta 'Yerimyahu hanovi (The Prophet
Jeremiah),' when the prince is talking to the king, he
sings the entire aria from the Russian opera 'Yevgeny
Oneigin.' The music for 'Gibor hakhayil (The Heroic
Soldier)' is completely taken from 'Faust'; 'Alexander'
is through and through Rubenstein’s 'Der toyer fun bavel
(The Tower of Babel).' Either because of the Germanized
Yiddish, or due to the borrowed music, these historic
operettas were rejected by the better informed
theatre-goers in Europe. They would simply laugh at them
both for the content and for the music. This was the
most earnest most unlucky period of the musical Yiddish
Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon
of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 822-826.
B. Gorin -- "History
of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. I, pp. 81, 193-197,
235-243; Vol. 2, pp. 41-57, 82-86, 125, 150,
Khanan Y. Minikes --
"The Yiddish Stage," (M. Zeifert's "Theatre HIstory.")
S. Schurr -- In den
ordn "harpe dovid's," "Der folks-advokat," N.Y., 16,
A. Boym -- A por
vorter tsum folk, "Der folks-advokat," N.Y., 17 June
M. Horowitz -- Eyn
ofener brief an herrn ab. Cahan in boston, dort.
(Ab. Cahan) -- The
New Plays in the Yiddish Theatres, "Di arbeter
tsaytung, N.Y., 1895.
B. Gorin -- Yiddish
Dramturges, "Theatre Journal," N.Y., 10-11, 1902.
Jacob Kirschenbaum --
Profesor m. horowitz, "The Canadian Eagle," 10 March
David Kessler -- Mir
shpiln in neshonal teater, "Der tog," N.Y., 11 March
David Kessler -- Der
ershter yidisher aktiorn streyk, "Der tog," N.Y., 18
Jacob P. Adler -- My
Life, "Di naye varhayt," N.Y., 13 April 1925.
Leon Kobrin -- "Erinerungen
fun a yidishn dramaturg," N.Y., 1925, Vol. 1, pp.
Sholem Perlmutter --
Yiddish dramaturges, "Di yidishe velt," Cleveland,
28 Nov. 1928.
A. Frumkin -- Di fier
periodn fun der yidisher operete, "Morning Journal,"
13 April 1928.
Ab. Cahan -- "Bleter
fun mayn lebn," N.Y., II, pp. 379-397.
Boris Thomashefsky --
Di geshikhte fun "eli-eli," "Theatre Memories"
(editor Zalmen Zylbercweig), Vilna, 1928, pp. 27-31.
Leon Blank --
"Professor" Moshe Horowitz -- Der amoliger kenig in
der yidisher teater-velt in amerika, "Forward," 21
Leon Blank -- Vi azoy
"profesor" horowitz in gefaren kayn amerike mit
kesler'n un mogulesko'n, "Forward," 22 Nov. 1928.
Leon Blank -- "Profesor"
horowitz in "shlomo hamelekh" oyf der bowery,
"Forward," 27 November 1928.
Leon Blank -- "Profesor"
horowitz, kenig fun teater-shund, shpilt op a
khasene oyf di gasn fun nyu york, "Forward," 28
Leon Blank -- Der "kenig"
fun teater-shund hot gelebt vi a milyoner un
geshtorbn in an anshtalt far orime, "Forward," 29
M. Osherovitch --
Dovid kessler un muni weisenfreund, N.Y., 1930, pp.
Y.Sh. -- A barikht
vegn yidishn teater in nyu-york fun 1894, "Archive,"
Sh"s -- Roman -- Der
repertaur fun yidishn teater in bukarest in 1877,
"Archive," pp. 280-85.