Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yakov Newman [Neyman]


Born on 4 June 1900 in Zhiradov (Żyrardów), by Warsaw, Poland, into a Chasidic merchant family. He learned in cheders and in the yeshiva in the neighboring city of Amshinov, where he also was three years with the Amshinov rabbi.

When his parents moved over to Warsaw, N. remained in Zhiradov, and at age sixteen began to participate, under the direction of Jacob Weislitz, in the local dramatic section, where he performed as "Kazimierz" in Pshibishevski's "Shney". When N. moved later, also over to Warsaw, he enrolled in dramatic courses with David Herman and participated in more one-acters in the dramatic section with the "Arebeter heym", under the direction of Shidlo and Tarlo.

After learning in a yeshiva, N. manifested a great desire for Yiddish literature, and even though he did not follow the religious way of life of his parents, he already by then, at home, farkert in artistic circles. Working by day with women's handbags, he used to in the evening, from time to time, [participate in] various events, declaring and reading from Yiddish literature. He especially worked deeply to dedicate himself to perform publicly. N. became a frequent attendee of the concerts and pleasures in -- by his house -- nearby "Harmonia" Hall(?)

1922 -- immigrated to America with his sister Bronya (later an active member in the "Folksbiene"). Here he worked further with

women's handbags. Shortly after his arrival, he had the opportunity to perform with Misha Fishzon in Arnstein's "Vilner balebesl" (role of "R' Chaim"), together with Yehuda Bleich, and after several members of the former "Kunst ring", then in "Kunst teater" (in Sackler's "Yizkor"). In the evening he learned in the "Folks University" with Mark Schweid and B. Ts. Goldberg. In the summertime, for several months he was program director in the summer places, and he also performed for organizations in New York.

1926 -- settled in Detroit, where he entered into the furniture business, and in the evening performed with a dramatic group, acting in the role of "Fon val" in Kushnirov's "Hirsh Leckert" by "Prodet", under the direction of Feder, and for several years as a professional in Littman's local Yiddish theatre under the auspices of Samuel Goldenburg, Misha Fishzon, Pesach Burstein, Betty Frank et al, and at the same time performing  as a reader and lecturer of Yiddish literature.

N. in Detroit also was especially active in the local Sholem Aleichem schools, and in the movement for modern Yiddish National ritual.

In 1946, N. made Los Angeles the place where he lived, and there for four years managed the Yiddish programs for the Jewish Community Centers. For three years he was program director for the Institute for Jewish Education, and for the last four years in the field  with the L. A. Yiddish Culture Club.

N. performs very often across the radio and in various Yiddish activities with readings and recitations of Yiddish literature, especially with the work of the classics, and finished recording an album  of Sholem Aleichem's stories.

In the Spring of 1959, he visited the land of Israel, where he performed in Yiddish with recitations and declarations.

N.'s daughter, Neomi, had under the supervision of her sister Shulamis, recorded a album of Yiddish and Hebrew songs.

M. E.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2325.

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