Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Zygmunt Lev


Born on 15 October 1904 in the Carpathian-Russian village of Yashinitz, Galicia, where there lived only a minyan of Jews, where they had maintained a religious teacher for the children of the village, through which L. had also learned. His father kept a sawmill.

During the First World War, the Jewish population fled from the village, and his entire family moved over to Klatava [Klatovy]  and Neuern [Nýrsko], Czechoslovakia. Here L. continued to learn with a religious teacher. In 1917 Czechoslovakia lost, and due to the destruction of Yashinitz, his family settled in Lemberg, where his father took up trading in candles(?). L. enrolled in the Lemberg yeshiva, and in 1920 he became acquainted with friends who had received a secular education, and L. became, under their influence, an autodidact, and shortly thereafter enrolled in a gymnasium, which he completed in 1922.

Under the influence of his friend, the future poet, he strongly desired to act in theatre, and he was included in the Hebrew amateur theatre, "Habima Blbub," and there he performed in Hebrew, in Hirschbein's "Green Fields," "Hulkhim vkhbim" ["Nonte un veyte"], and also in Yiddish (role of "Ritmeister") in Strindberg's "The Father," then joining the local Polish dramatic school, which was under the direction of Krizhizhanovski and Frontshkovski, and he acted in Polish as "Jarski" in Pshibishevski's "Tsulib Glik."


 In 1924 L. traveled to Vienna, where he began studying in an engineering school and included himself at the same time in the Reinhardt dramatic school, at the Jozefstadt Theatre, where he learned for scarcely a year.

In 1925 he arrived in the Land of Israel, where he entered into the "Hebrew Theatre" (together with Dr. Jacob Hurwitz, Nachman Zibel, Haumi, Karmelit, and Rafael Klatzkin, and participated in Hebrew in Sholem Aleichem's "200,000," "Di zind fun vinitshenko," "Di shikhith" by Jacob Gordin, and "Viera Mirtsova," then he traveled about, then with the Cultural Committee across the Land of Israel's communities, with recitations and declamations in Yiddish and Hebrew, later the same year Poland and Galicia.

In 1928 L. Joined the young theatre "Der kval" (in Yiddish, in small arts numbers), and he also staged "200,000" (under the direction of Joel Lusternik [Shpigel]). In 1930 L. immigrated to Canada, where he opened a Yiddish dramatic school, and put on with the students Leivick's "The Gold Diggers," and on 5 May 1931 in Ottawa, "Dos groise gevins (The Big Winner). At the same time he performed with recitations and declamations at various Yiddish events.

He then returned to his profession -- engineering, made several inventions that changed his entire economic status, and in 1935 he was hired as a chief engineer in a large architectural business in Detroit and Windsor, but went back in his free time, to participate in Yiddish activities, and also was proclaimed by the "Yiddish Cultural Society" to participate in March 1934 for the fifty-year jubilee for Sholem Aleichem at New York City College.

In 1935 L. settled in Los Angeles, where he gave himself to his profession, but from time to time he performed on the Yiddish radio and during various Yiddish events, with recitations and declamations of Yiddish literature, especially with the works of I. L. Peretz, Sholem Aleichem and Sh. Frug.

L. also published several songs and an article in the journal "Yiddish" (Vienna, August-September 1928), honoring the Moscow State Theatre and their connection to the guest-appearance in Vienna.

M. E.

  • Joseph Mourer -- Idish kultur-lebn in borislav, "Pinkas galitsye," Buenos Aires, 1945, pp. 323-327.






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 3, page 2277

Copyright © Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.