Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Dr. M. J. Olgin
(Moshe Yosef Novomisky)


Born on 24 March 1878 in a village of Kiev Gubernia, Uman kreyz, Ukraine. His father was a manager in forests, earlier in Kiev Gubernia, afterwards in Volin, a Jew and a scholar, but caught up in Haskalah, had educated his son in Tenach and Gemora, but also didn't stop him from learning Russian and gave him access to Hebrew Haskalah books, and even to Yiddish literature.

At the age of fifteen, O. left his home and for several years and geknelt in villages with yishuvnikes, later settling in Rogachev, Volin Gubernia, where he was given to study. In 1900 he entered into the Jewish facultat of the Kiev university, becoming enlisted in the student and revolutionary movement. In January 1901, together with several hundred students gave themselves as soldiers to participate in student unrest, published then his first feder-pruv -- a proclamation in Russian to the students. After amnesty, he was again associated with the student movement and at the same time with the Jewish revolutionary student group which originated in the "Bund." Since 1903 he was only connected with the Jewish Labor Movement, April 1903 he was arrested due to the preparations for a Jewish zelbstshuts, became an activist in the "Bund" as an agitator and writer. At the end of 1906 he left Russia due to a poor state of health, studied in 1907 in Heidelberg social science and philosophy, and became a correspondent for New York's "Forward." In 1918 he received the title of Doctor in Columbia University with the right to take a professor catedre in American universities.


In 1920 he visited Germany, France and Russia, and when he returned to America, that O. influenced, that the Jewish political group may have left the Right Socialist Party for America, and when the group united with the American communists, building the "Workers Party," O. was one of the leaders of her Jewish section and was co-editor, for a certain time also the sole editor, of the daily Yiddish communist newspaper "Di frayhayt" (since March 1928 again the editor), and editor of the communist monthly journal "Der hamer."

O. translated Yuskevitch's play "Der kenig" (publishing house "Di velt," Warsaw), Andreyev's "Kenig-hunger" (a production in five scenes with a prologue, publishing house Mayzel and Co., New York, 1910), and Tolstoy's "Lebediker mes" (printed in the "Forward"), had written very many articles and critiques about Yiddish theatre in the "Forward," "Di naye velt" and in the "Frayhayt."

In 1927 there was staged by the Yiddish Art Theatre his drama, "Ir farbrekhn."

O. wrote a grotesque, "7 yarn in gan eydn (Seven Years in Paradise)" (printed in the kropive department of the "Frayhayt" at the end of 1928), and a dramatization for a ballet per Sholem Aleichem "L"g bezmr."

M. E.

  • Zalmen Reyzen --- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 92-7.

  • "Olgin-number," "Der hamer," N. Y., 9, 1927.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 61.

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