Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Joseph Kopelman

K. was born in 1893 in Warsaw, Poland.

His father was a carpenter.

He received a traditional education, later in the home, as a self-taught, general education.

At the age of twelve he participated, together with his brothers Adolph and Herman Fenigshteyn, in a children's' collective led by Mark Meyerson, debuting as "Shadkhan" in "Hertsele meyukhes (Hertsele, the Man of Aristocratic Descent)".

In 1910 he was taken into Rappel's troupe to act professionally at the "Elizeum", at first as "Der gerisher [bridegroom]" in "The [Y-kh-sn]", later as "Shmuel goltses" in "The Jewish Soul", and the role of the father in "The Golden Wedding".

In 1912 he co-directed with Rappel's troupe in Odessa, where he played "The Farmer" in "The American Woman (Amenkanerin)", the "King" in "For 400 Years", "Alvarez" in "Shabbat kodesh", as "Itsikl" in "The Forced (Di getsvungene] Wedding".

Due to military conscription in 1914, he went to Pinsk with Schwartzbard's troupe, and a short time later organized a member's troupe with part of Moshe Silberkasten and Sarah Fibikh, which later merged with the collective et al of Shtokfeder and Myodovink, whose troupe toured the cities of the Urals and Siberia.

During the February Revolution, K. brought the united troupe to Kharkov, to Lipovski, but on the way he met with the members troupe that included Menachem Rubin and Misha Appelbaum in [shp-z] and performed therein.

After the October Revolution, K. became united with the troupe that was under the direction of Segal-Likhterman and went with them to Pinsk and acted there under under the direction of Abraham Teitelbaum in the role of "Max" in "Provacateur" and "Uriel Mazik" in "God, Man and Devil". [Verndik aroysgetribn] from Minsk, K. organized a member troupe with whom he performed across the Ukraine.

When Denikins' White Guard captured Yekaterinoslav, K. went with the collective to Gruzye, where they acted in the large centers. However, a year later he returned to the Ukraine.

In 1923 K. organized there a new collective led by Esther Rachel Kaminska, and he acted in the major roles in the plays: "Tevye the Milkman", "Motke the Thief", "The Robbers", "Kreutzer Sonata", "Sappho" and "The Stranger".

In 1929 K. entered into the Yiddish Baveglekher State Theatre of the Ukraine, and in 1932 he was one of the cherished founders of the Yiddish state theatre in Baku.

In 1939, according to K., he went over to the Odessa State Theatre.

In 1941, during the Soviet-Nazi war, K. [temporarily went over to the Russian stage, but later he performed in the Kiev Yiddish State Theatre under the direction of Sholem Aleichem.

Sh. E. from Yehoshue Lyubmirsky.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 7, page 6139.

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