Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yehoshua Mezach
(M. Sgl)


Born in 1834 in New Zager, Kovno Gubernia, Lithuania. Father -- a great scholar, grammarian and a man of language, had planted in him a love of Torah and Chokhmah (Kabbalah). By himself he learned and then was sent to the larger yeshivas of Lithuania.

M. had from childhood manifested a great persistence, had learned by himself in Kovno, Shavel, Telz and Volozhin, then became influenced by the Haskalah and became a teacher of Talmud and Hebrew in Kreitzberg, Yakovshtat and in Brisk. M. also had tried to become an author and viazhar, and had in the end entirely dedicated himself to literary activities.

Debuting in the Hebrew press with a correspondence in "HaCarmel" (44, Trkh'b), and in Yiddish literature with a story, "Kidush Hashem" in "Kol Mbshr" (1, 1862), he ha from then on continuously written in Hebrew and Yiddish, participating in almost every Hebrew and in a large part of the Yiddish periodic publications.

The anxiety in him left him, but he didn't sit long in any one place. For ten years M. wandered from city to city, across Russia and Romania.

Being in Warsaw, where at the time Avraham Goldfaden had performed with his troupe, M. published in Hebrew a brochure about Yiddish theatre under the name "Bmt Ishkhk Au Msha Gia Thziun Mat Ihushe Mzkh", Warsaw (Shnt) Tr'n Lp'k [1890, 40 pp., 16].


The brochure, which Zalmen Reyzen noted in his "Lexicon" that most of the time was in error, was a comedy(?), and is the first Hebrew brochure about Yiddish theatre. In the critiqued the author Goldfaden's modern plays, and expressed his satisfaction only with Goldfaden's historical operettas. He portrays the former Yiddish theatre "Buff" in Warsaw, and also reviews an offering of "Shulamis", then he talked about the melodrama "Der betler", which Jacob P. Adler had performed, and praised the actor Tantsman for his performance in "Uriel Acosta". The author also cited a review from the newspaper "Hatsfirah", about the offering of Goldfaden's "Ahasuerus". He critiques Shomer's "Der protesentik" and "Der treyfniak", forvarfndik that they included in himself(?): a threat from material from the anti-Semitic press and praised Dr. Shlomo Ettinger's "Serkele", which he recommended to perform.

Leo Wiener in his "History of the Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century" lists "A sht kheyl", a historical issue in four acts and six scenes, Warsaw, 1890, 80 pp., 16, and "Di oyferzikhtike froy", or Diershte kekhin, a scene of family life, Warsaw, 1893, 31 pp, 16.

In "Hoyzfreynd" (I, 1894), there was published N.'s dramatic skit "Beym rb in shtub", and an article about Yiddish theatre in which he says his viewpoint in short, which he had expressed in his Hebrew brochure.

In 1910 in Vilna, there was published "Elilt-dm in Yerushalayim, a theatre production in four acts and five scenes from Yehoshua HaLevi Mezakh" [48 pp., 16], on the inveynikstn front cover, there was printed: Publisher Zalmen Mezach (Philadelphia, America).

M. also published several Hebrew plays. B. Gorin characterizes all of the printed comedies in three acts, "Di A?ferzikhtike froy", which is probably a Yiddish translation of M.'s Hebrew story in dramatic form "Elilt shua  au asht knaut" (Vilna, 1908).

The last twenty-five years of his life was spent by M. in Vilna, where he passed away on 12 February 1917.

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, pp. 366-374.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 269.

  • Rbi -- Ktsi [Y. Kh. Ravnitsky] -- Di ney-zhargonishe literatur, "Di idishe folks-bibliotek", Kiev, 1888, pp. 303, 304.

  • Leo Weiner -- "The History of Yiddish Literature in the Ninetenth Century", N. Y., 1899, pp. 372.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1287.

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