Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Hyman Meisel

He was born in March 1866 in Odessa, Ukraine.

His parents were antique furniture dealers.

He learned in a cheder until he was seven and afterwards completed five classes in the city gymnasium.

At the age of seventeen, together with several of his young friends, performed in Reuben Veysman's German club the plays "Don yosef abarbanel" acting as "Mikhelzon" in the title role.

Some of his later amateur offerings were also attended by the actors Mogulesko and Aba Shoengold who had been guest-starring in Odessa.

As he performed with the amateur circle, M. became enamored with the Yiddish actor Tabatshnikov, who there had then served as a soldier, and with him put on Shomer's "Der blutiker adye". In the play Katzman had participated and [frl. dyen].

Later he also participated in the production of Zelig Schorr, with whom M. acted Shomer's play "A klap far a klap" in Marinski's Theatre.

Through the initiative of Shomer's wife who had attended the last production, M. was engaged by Shomer in his troupe, however several days later Yiddish theatre was banned.


Since then M. worked seven years as an employee, but he could not free himself from his inclination to the stage. And when he came (cir 1891) to America he once againvattended productions of the Yiddish theatre. However, due to the difficult economy, he became a tailor of new clothes in [sheper].

He went to Morris Moshkovitsh, M. acted with him and with other "amateurs" around ten productions in Russia, the Eikr Okhtrovski's play. The production was attended by Adler and he was soon engaged for his troupe.

About M.'s debut on the Yiddish stage, wrote Bessie Thomashefsky in her memoirs: "He came [cir 1897]  as a new talent, an intelligent, young Russian man made his mark in the picture "Capitalist". The new talent is Hyman Meisel who then after that came back to the Yiddish theatre. He acts as a worker and has made himself a "hit" (success).

M. soon became one of the prominent actors on the Yiddish stage in America and has acted together with the important actors, also guest-starring in the summer of 1914 in Paris, London and Lemberg.

In April 1923, acting at the Yiddish Art Theatre [Madison Square Garden] in the play "Yiskor", M. also became formalized and since then transferred his activity to the theatre.

M. was a co-founder of the Yiddish Actors Union. M. composed many serious and humorous works "declamatories", which he used to declaim alone for the stage.

A part of them was in his book "Deklamatsionen fun dem berihmten idishen shoyshpiler Hyman Meizel, hibru-poblishing kimp., New York, 1919"., p. 114, 16.

He also wrote the play: "Zeyn veybs man" ["Zeyn veybs man, a komishe opereta fun H. Meisel, hoypferkoyf by the publisher "Kultur", Warsaw, 1912", p. 71, 16], which was performed with the great success in America and in Europe, "Gegen der natur [Mzvg zvgim], a drama in four acts, music by Rumshinsky", which on 17 October 1913 he acted in Malvina Lobel's Royal Theatre "Rubele sholtik" [performed for eleven weeks with Nathan Goldberg], and "Gekoyfte libe" [performed by Elving in Newark].

M.'s daughter, Bela, is a prima donna in the Yiddish theatre, and is the wife of composer A. Olshanetsky.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "Di Geshikhte fun idishn teater (The History of the Yiddish Theatre)", Vol. II, pp. 269-70.

  • [--] -- Fiele mlakhut; venig brkhut un endlekh an actyor, "Forward", N. Y., 4 February 1913.

  • Jacob Kirchenbaum -- Kunst un kinstler, "Di idishe velt", Cleveland, July 1915.

  • Bessie Thomashefsky -- "Meyn lebens geshikhte", N. Y., 1918, p. 249.

  • Led Fensil [B. Botvinik] --  Tipen tsvishen idishe aktyoren, "Forward", N. Y., 8 October 1920.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1295.

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