Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Leon (Yeshaya Arye) Kuperman


Born on 24 June 1883 in Iasi, Romania. His grandfather was the R' Mordechai Altschuler, one of the oldest booksellers and antique collectors in Romania. His father was a bookseller, and a publisher and antique collector.

He was raised in a pious Chasidic environment, att4ended the German Evangelist school in Iasi, then learned privately Romanian, German and French with a teacher. At the age of seventeen he began to write songs in Romanian and several publications, as well as (under the pseudonym Leon Din Yash) translations of French. Then he traveled across Romania, Galicia, Vienna, Budapest, Germany, Italy and France. At the end of 1903 he arrived in America, became familiar with Yiddish literature. After visiting several cities he traveled back in 1905 to Vienna, where Dr. Nathan Birnbaum published in the supplement  to his "Yidishe vochenshrift" K.'s first song in Yiddish with Latin letters. He returned back to New York, where K. was employed as a teacher of German and French, published songs in "Fraye arbayter shtime," and in other periodical scripts.

K. worked together in New York at the "Tog," Philadelphia "Yidishe velt," where he also wrote reviews. In 1918 for a certain time he was in an American military camp as representative of a Jewish company, then manager of the Philadelphia "Hebrew Literature Society." held lectures about literature and Jewish history, arranged the first exhibition  of Jewish artists in America. Since the end of 1919 in Iasi, he was co-founder and president of

the Jewish cultural union "Hmtib (Benefactor?)" and performed with papers in various cities in Romania.

In 1910 there appeared in New York his drama, "Azra'el."

In 1913, through Jacob P. Adler who staged K.'s and William Edlin's play, "Der yid (The Jew)," about which B. Gorin said, that was adapted form Anri Bernstein's play.

About the play, Sh. Yanovski writes:

"We have seen ...the 'Jew' in Adler's 'Dewey Theatre,' and we would like to see a lot of shortcomings in this play when we would like to see some kind of promise for the future. However, unfortunately, isn't that the case? We wonder why these young people have taken to making a drama. The play, 'The Jew,' is a morality play, a play filled with agitation. It is a melodrama ...(The composer doesn't know the people who are being portrayed), and therefore what only comes out are shadows of people. The moral of this was passed to young people: never to write a drama, a history of people which they perhaps only heard of, or never did ...been acquainted with them, to understand a little bit of what is going on in their souls ..."

Y. Slonim writes about the play and the acting:

"' 'The Jew,' which is the fruit of the interconnected minds of William Edlin and Leon Kuperman, is far, far from an art work. We want to explain here immediately and at the beginning, that the play is even far from literature... Art work is rarely produced.... 'The Jew' is a 'Mexican binen' work ...The problem, which in the play raises, which is not new, here is an interesting and a time question. The technique is partly good... an intelligent viewer can expose the play ...can enjoy spending the evening ...'The Jew' is a smooth play with several strengths, but not a vulgar scene, with almost constant motion on the stage.

...About the acting of the actors, we do not have many compliments to make for them. Many of them were simply incapable of secrecy. Mr. Shoengold, who plays the role of the professor, does not begin to know his role and did not know how to talk and where to turn, almost all the actors did not sow what he needed. Although in some scenes he made a lift to the fire of "big Adler." Entirely good, but a little tight. Frances Adler, Mr. Conrad, Mrs. Wilensky, also didn't play badly. Mrs. Nathanson as Mrs. Brown, Mr. Schacht as the poet, have tried to do their best. Schacht has been really good at times."

In 1911 K. translated Goethe's "Faust," which was ordered by him to be a publisher Evalenko, as Evalenko was demoralized as a suspect in relationship to the Czarist force, the translation (another translation, but only for the first part, from Ezra Fininberg, published in Moscow in 1937) from the original German, with a component by the great Goethe researcher, with a preface by the translator, a short biographical sketch of Goethe, with a simplicity and commentary, it only appeared in 1920 in "Malerman's Literary Publishing Company," Philadelphia-New York.

Zalmen Raizen notes:

"Unfortunately the translation of the great work of world literature is absolutely unsatisfactory."

He turned back to America, and K. on 29 March 1942 passed away in New York.

K.'s published plays:

(1.) Azra'el
A tragedy by Leo Kuperman
(3 acts with a prologue)
New York (1910, 54 pp.)

(2.) Faust
A tragedy in two parts, by J.W. von Goethe
The great Goethe researcher, by L. Kuperman
(First part, 1920, 298 pp.; Second part, 460 pp.)
Malerman's Literary Publishing Company

Sh.E. by Jacob Tikman.

  • Zalmen Reisen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vilna, 1929, Volume 3d, pp. 611-614.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. 2, pp. 214, 270.

  • Y. Slonim -- "The Jew" in Adler Theatre, "Theatre and Moving Pictures," N.Y., 24 October 1913.

  • D.B. (Sh. Yanovsky) -- In theatre, "Fraye arbayter shtime," N.Y., 25 October 1913.

  • Y. Rapoport -- Goethe in Yiddish, "Vochnshrift," Warsaw, N' 14, 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 6, page 5668.

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