Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Moishe Nadir
(Yitskhok Rayz)


N. was born in May 1885 in Narayev, Eastern Galicia. His father at first handled crops, honey, etc., then he became a teacher of German for a Jewish landowner. Until the age of twelve N. learned in a cheder and German with his father.

In 1898, he came with his mother to America to his father, who had earlier immigrated. Until age sixteen, G. here attended English school, then entered into various employments; he was an agent for an insurance company, a window dresser, et al. Most of the time he lived among non-Jews, but from childhood he had a deep interest in the Yiddish language.

Around 1902 he debuted with songs and sketches in Bukanski's "Der teglekher herald". As he came closer to the Jewish environment of New York, N. began to participate, under his own name and under a pseudonym, in the "Fraye arbayter shtime", and then in various other journals and collection books. For a long time he was assistant editor in "Der groyser kunds", and he edited (together with B. Kovner--J. Adler) "Der idisher gzln", and he participated in "Der kibitser", et al.

N.'s popularity dated from his first book "Vilde royzen" (New York, 1915), and later from his feuilletons "Fun mensh tsu mensh" in the New York newspaper "Der tog".

His closeness to the theatre he expressed in the many theatre articles and reviews, in which he spared the shund and the vulgar appearances on the Yiddish stage in America.

A part of these articles (also written under the pseudonym "S. Feyerfoygl") was later published in print in his book "Meyne hend hobn fergosen dos dozige blut" [New York 1929, publishing house Mayzel, 186 pp., as well as in a better edition in ("Moishe Nadir. Geklibene verk, meyne hent hobn fargosn dos dozike blut".) Vilna, 1927, 223 pp.

In the last years, N. has been a steady contributor to  New York's communist organ "Di frayhayt" [later "Morgn frayhayt"].

N. wrote the play "Sukses (Success)" [according to N. later used by Chone Gottesfeld in his comedy "Gvald, ven shtarbt er?", which Gottesfeld denied categorically], staged by Maurice Schwartz on 7 February 1919 in the Irving Place Theatre [Success, a tragi-comedy in hekher three acts with a prologue and a pre-prologue], "Dos feyer fun kloyster-berg" (staged on 10 April 1919 in the Irving Place Theatre), published in the third volume of N.,'s "Neyeste verk" (New York, 1932) in "Der letster yid", a satirical comedy, a shadow of Yevreynav's theme", directed by Maurice Schwartz on 2 November 1919 in his Yiddish Art Theatre [according to Chone Gottesfeld, the play is a free adaptation of Leo Birinski's "Der narn-tants"].

On 2 May 1924, through the "Kunst ring", there was staged in the Triangle Theatre N.'s one-acter "Di velt fun meshugies", printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", under the name "A meshugene velt".

On 31 March 1926, through "Modiacot", there was staged N.'s "Oyf yener velt" [printed under the name "Marionetshpil" in "Kultur", Chicago, N' 1, 1925, and included in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk" (N. Y., 1932)].

On 11 January 1927, through the "Kunst ring", there was staged in the Irving Place Theatre G.'s "Di tragedye fun gornisht, a play in three acts and five scenes, scenery -- Baruch Aronson, music -- Lazar Weiner, direction -- Miriam Elias and Baruch Aronson" [the second act of the play under the name "In apteyk" (a dramatic fragment) published in "Unzer theatre", New York, N' 2-3, 1921. The full play was published in "Di tskunft", 1922, under the  name "Moishe nadir. Di tragedye fun gornisht, a drama in five acts", and in 1932 it was included in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk"].

In "Frayhayt" (1928-29), N. also published the dramatization of his story, printed in the weekly "Haynt" (1919-21), "Moshiakh in amerike" [about which G. accused Chone Gottesfeld of plagiarism regarding the subject of Gottesfeld's "American Chasidim", which G. denied categorically. Compare to  Osip Dymov's and the similar, lively one-acters staged by Jacob Mestel in 1929 in the Civic Repertory Theatre in New York]. The play was included in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk" (New York, 1932).

He also wrote various light sketches that were performed in "Nadir's shpil-kamer" (a summer theatre in his summer hotel), and in Camp "Nit Gedayget (Don't Worry)", and dramatized Sholem Aleichem's "Di letste minutn fun a zeyger", staged through Jacob Mestel in Carnegie Hall under the name "Nakinka" (Nadir's artists' camp), which he soon, however, liquidated.

In "Frayhayt" (25-26 August 1929), there was published his "A royter tkhlis", written for the "Nit Gedayget" Theatre and staged by Jacob Mestel for International Diamond Day.

In "Frayhayt" N. also published his dramatic poem "Eliahu hanovi".

In 1932 there was, through the publishing house "Frayhayt" (New York), published four scenes of his writings, of which the fourth volume was dedicated to nineteen dramatic works under the name "Teater tekstn": dramas, one-acters, plays, reviews, peydzhents.

N. writes in his memoirs that he also had written a play "Di groyse vand" [subject, see in "Frayhayt", from 17 February 1929] and -- together with Moshe Leib Halpern -- a play "Unter der last fun tslm".

According to Jacob Kalich, N. also had particpated in the adaptation of Joseph Lateiner's operettas "Mazel brkhh" (staged on 23 March 1928 in Kessler's Second Avenue Theatre).

N. also translated Jim O'Neill's (sp) drama "Di horike malpe", had dramatized Leo Tolstoy's novel "Der toyt fun ivan ilyich"(hand-written [version] went lost), and had translated "Di farzunkene glok" [Gerhard Hauptmann]. Der eyngezunkener glok. A drama in five acts. Ibergedikhtet by Moishe Nadir. Vilna 1929, Vilna publishing house of B. Kletzin. 150 pp., 16]. 

N. also farenglisht [in his English translation] of Sholem Aleichem's "Hard to be a Jew".

In Yetta Blank's collection of Yiddish one-acters, she translated into English [New York, 2nd volume, 1929], also published N.'s one-acter "Ikh, der teater-geyer".

N.'s printed plays in Yiddish:

[1]    In apteyk, (a dramatic fragment), [printed in "Unzer Theatre", New York, 2-3, 1921. Issued as a second act from "Di tragedye fun gornisht"].

[1a]   Moishe Nadir, Di Tragedye fun gornisht, a drama in five acts, [printed in "Di tsukunft", N. Y., October 1922].

[1b]   [Printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", N. Y., 1932].

[2]    Marionetshpil, [printed in "Kultur", Chicago, N' 1. 1925].

]2a]   Marioneten-shpil, [printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", N. Y., 1952].

[3]    Moshiakh in amerike, [printed in "Frayhayt", N. Y., 25-26 November, 16 December 1928, 13 January 1929].

[3a]   Moshiakh in amerike, [printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", N. Y., 1932].

[4]    Ferditshane (one-acter), by Moishe Nadir, [from Moishe Nadir].

[4a]   [Printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", N. Y., 1932].

[5]    A royter tkhlis, by Moishe Nadir, [printed in "Frayhayt", N. Y, 25-26 August 1929].

[6]    Binyamin kikhot, [printed in the third volume of N.'s "Neyeste verk", N. Y., 1932].

[7]    Kloyster-berg [same].

[8]    Der lign-khaper [same].

[9]    Dos hiltserne por-folk [same].

[10]   Hotentoten [same].

[11]   Lakhn iz gezunt [same].

[12]   Nishto yosel [same].

[13]   A mames kind [same].

[14]   Leymene goylems [same].

[15]   Der geler karvil [same].

[16]   Di letste minutn fun a zeyger [same].

[17]   Di hagode melodrame [same].

[18]   U-ntn-rn meser [same].

[19]   A meshugene velt [same].

[20]   Der nayer seyder [same].

  • Z. Reyzen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature", Vol. II, pp. 500-513.

  • B. Gorin -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. II, p. 281.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- "Sukses", a neye piese in irving pleys teater, "Forward", N. Y.., 13 February 1919.

  • Israel the Yankee [Y. Y. Fridman] -- Di teater velt, "Yidtgbl't", N. Y., 14 February 1919.

  • Luminus -- In theater, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 15 February 1919.

  • L. T. Bieli -- Moishe nadir's "der letster id", "Yidgbl't", N. Y., 11 November 1921.

  • Sh. N. [Niger] -- Moishe nadir: "di tragedye fun gornisht", drame in finf akten, "Dos naye leben", N. Y., December 1922.

  • N. Buchwald -- Poetisher kantseniamer gemisht mit teater, "Frayhayt", N. Y., 14 January 1927.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- "Di tragedye fun gornisht", geshpilt fun kunstring, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 21 January 1927.

  • Israel Stern -- Mkhh "meyne hent hobn fargosn dos dozike blut", "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, 26, 1927.

  • Chone Gottesfeld -- A por bamerkungen vegen moishe "nemer", "Forward", N. Y., 15 July 1928.

  • Moishe Nadir -- Teg fun meyne teg, "Frayhayt", N. Y., 16, 17 February 1929.

  • Y. Rapoport -- Gerhardt hoyptman, "Vokhnshrift", Warsaw, N.' 45, 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1389.

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