Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Paulina Kobrin (Segal)

Born in 1875 in Bialystok, Russian Poland. She received a Jewish education, and later she made it through the courses of a five- to six- class gymnasium. She wandered off to America, where in 1893 she married Leon Kobrin, and since then, along with him, translated an entire range of works, which often were published-- as Zalmen Reisen tells it-- due to editorial reasons-- in the name of her husband.

Also K., under her maiden name, wrote skits for the "Abend blat (Evening Newspaper)" and "Tsukunft."

On 7 February 1913 in Sarah Adler's Novelty Theatre, with Sarah Adler in the role of "Liza Epstein," there was staged K.'s drama in four acts, "The Tragedy of a Woman."

On 29 January 1926 in London's Pavilion Theatre, there was staged the four-act comedy, "Vi m'ertsim a man," adapted by her into Yiddish.

The translation of Tolstoy's "The Living Corpse" was created through Kobrin's partnership with his wife, and the same was done two other plays, "Musette" by Maupassant and Normand in "A Family Tragedy" by Maupassant, which was published in six volumes by Maupassant in a collection of works, which was published in 1923 in New York.

K. also was instrumental in the publication of Kobrin's volume, "Dramatic Writings," in New York in 1952, for which she had written an introduction.

On 29 August 1961 K. passed away in New York.

B. Ts. Goldberg writes:

"This is the wife of a Yiddish writer, especially of a famous Yiddish writer in a significant undertaking. Not so that it is generally not easy durkhtsukumen with a writer in private life, but because the life of a Yiddish writer always was, and much more often today, a difficult material and spiritual struggle and a life full of strain, indignation, disappointment and frustration, which the happy moments of achievement, recognition reaped in a flash in a farvalknter night. But Pauline Kobrin was more like a wife to Leon Kobrin. She also was his secretary, creator, instructor and critic. And above everything, Paulina Kobrin was his anchor in life.

Faran writer who are easily carried from the winds and storms is very, times, And they must have a ballast, that may hold the balance, that the essence of the subordinate may appear, who may see realistically the reality. Leon Kobrin has in that anchor perhaps forced more than others, and this to him was Pauline."

Goldberg touched on the conflict between Kobrin and Ab. Cahan during the time of his collaboration at the "Forward," and as the "Forward Association" had found a compensation for Kobrin's publication of his translation from French to Russian, and:

"These translations, which were published under Leon Kobrin's name, had to significantly make Paula Kobrin-- this she did, that he should himself be able to devote himself to writing dramas for the theatre.

In another account, Goldberg, as editor of the "Tog," had the manuscript of Kobrin's translation of a novel, which the "Tog" used to publish, and he had seen that:

"Many translations came about from Paula's handwriting. At first it was ordered that he direct her, and he had plenty to direct there, where he had wanted to rewrite or adapt the original in order to make it fit into the daily transfer[?] [fortzetsungen] in the newspaper. However, when the text is going continually, Paula alone could do it. She knew Russian and German and also a little French, better than him. When Paula Kobrin didn't want to be the wife of Leon Kobrin, when she didn't want to darken her ambition with his, when she did not want to satisfy herself by literally living through her husband's writings, she by herself could be an important writer in our literary world. Also, with conditions, she left a few printed items-- a play-- in her own name."

Celia Silver [Celia Zylbercweig] in a large article, from an interview with her, writes:

"She is tall and slim, a head with half-gray, thick hair, and eyes-- dark, deep, wise, durkhdringnde. Her eyes flash with a fiery funk when she begins to mix the biz-gor interesting pages of her life story. ... In style and humility she helped her husband shackle, improve, embellish, refine every type that came out of his pen. No matter, whatever Leon Kobrin had written, did not go off to the press without the permission of Paulina, his wife. Together they worked on translations... and thus enriched with real pearls the Yiddish literature and language. Together they translated Chekhov, Turgenev,  and twenty volumes of the French writer Guy de Maupassant. With regards to the translations, of which a part were indeed only Paulina Kobrin's, she had worked with love and ibergebnheyt, because this was the medium that has made it possible for Kobrin to turn to for his original creations. Mrs. Kobrin had (also previously) worked for several years in a shop, and later had a small shop in order to create the necessary requirements for her home."

  • Zalmen Reisen-- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. III, p. 370.

  • B. Gorin-- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, p. 273.

  • B. R. [Rivkin]-- The Yiddish Stage, "The Literary World," N.Y., 21 February 1913.

  • Celia Silver-- Paulina kobrin in a gantz lebn geven di literarishe shusfte fun ir man leon kobrin, "Der amerikaner," N.Y., 2 July 1948.

  • Leon Kobrin-- "Mayne fuftsik yor in amerike," Buenos Aires, 1955.

  • B. Ts. Goldberg-- In gang fun tog, "Tog Morning Journal," N.Y., 2 September 1961.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3044.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.