Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Feigele Panitz
(Feige-Leah Meron)

Born in 1893 in Braslav, Lita (Lithuania), to pious parents. Her father was a musician and a prayer leader.

As a child of five, she lost her mother. Her family moved over to Dvinsk, where she had a hard life with her stepmother until she was eight years old. She [then] went with her family to Riga, where she was raised in a strong revolutionary environment until she immigrated in 1908 to London, England, where there existed the anarchistic group "Arbeter fraynd," a dramatic group directed by Sam Goldstein (later well-known as the actor Samuel Goldinburg), [which was] an antidote against the then cheap Yiddish music hall and legitimate theatre (with exceptions such as the guest-starring Feinman, Moshkovitch et al.), but due to the anti-Nationalism and anti-citizenship character, the participants were mentioned only by their first names, and also not in Yiddish., but by their English names.

So P. was under the name of "Fannie," and she participated in the offering of Sholem Aleichem's 'Tsezayt un tseshpreyt," his one-acters, Pinski's "With Victorius Banners (Mit ziger fonen)," and as "Anna Moore" in Hauptmann's "Lonely People," Dymow's "The Repetition," and participated in receptions and distinctive evenings of Avrom Reisen in London with singing of his song.

Arriving on 1 April 1911 in New York, this same year she married social activist Joseph Panitz, and led a well-to-do life. In 1914 she


participated with Oscar Kartaginsky in "Krumen shpigl." At first in Los Angeles, where she made her home in 1922, she continued, through the initiative of Dr. Leo Blass, Y.L. Malamut, Chaim Shapiro and Dr. Y. Wortsman, she returned to being active in Jewish cultural life, and she began to perform with Yiddish folk songs and songs from Jewish poets, at first for the former proletariat sanitarium, which the now-famous "City of Hope," for a Jewish high school [folksshul], YIVO, Yiddish culture club and various national organizations.

In 1937, on the way to Eretz Yisroel, F. performed in New York on the "EVD [WEVD]" radio [station], on the "Forward Program," and evoked a great appearance. About her concert performances in Israel, the known Israeli writer Avraham Liss writes:

"It should be noted that it was the first concert of Yiddish songs in Eretz Yisroel. There there already was 'arayngekhopt' a Yiddish song as contraband merchandise. This time the Yiddish song was dedicated to an entire evening. The press had avoided the performance both before and later, not wanting to 'reclaim' [it], even in the local news. 'Dkhr' genoy vi, harts.' No one has every come. Also this is already a degree [madreyge]!

In 1947 P. created a tour, together with the poet H. Rosenblatt, across Chicago, New York, Detroit and Canada, and performed with concerts, and also performed on the radio concerts of the "Tog."

In 1952 P. was invited on two concerts to Mexico for the society "Culture and Assistance [Kultur un Hilf]."

In 1957-58 with her husband, she visited the Land of Israel, where she performed in concerts for the "Muetst hapuelut."

In the span of all the years that P. had performed in Los Angeles, she was greatly loved and became the "songstress of the people." Her every performance constantly was constantly received with great love and affection.

In a conversation, which she had with Celia Silver (Zylbercweig), she recalled that when Sidor Belarsky once in Los Angeles had sung Reisen's "Du fregst mikh vi alt ikh bin," a women then who came to her and said that "Belarsky" had not been allowed to sing her song," and Celia Silver remarked:

"And Feigele sang for me a song with such heart and soul, that I understand every woman who was sure that the song was written only for Feigele Panitz. Her voice clung and licked the ear. Every word is clear, as if starting from stone, and nevertheless lies in so many hearts and souls."

P. recorded a part of her repertoire, an album, which contains the songs: "Yankele," "Di zun iz fargangen," "In goldenem land" (Gebertig), "S'iz avek der nekhtn" (Dr. Chaim Zhitlowsky), "Shpilt mir oyf a nayem sher," and "Kh'lib a sheyn yingele," accompanied by her daughter Sylvia Neufeld.

An album, which contains the songs: "Weig-lid (Mani Leib -- Pinchas Jassinowsky), "Mame, mame" (Ch. Rosenblatt) -- F. Lemkoff), "Di zun iz fargangen" (M. Gebertig), "Shtiler, shtiler" (Sh. Kaczerginski), "Kh'hob nokh in lebn" (Avrom Reisen -- L. Feingold), "Got fun avraham" (H. Rosenblatt -- Sh. Golub) "Hmbdil," "Yankele," and "Brengt der shadchen" (M. Gebertig), and the folk song, "L'chaim, rebinyu," accompanied by her daughter.

The songs "Brengt der shadchan" and "Weig-lid" were previously issued as a special record [RCA Victor.]

Sh.E. from Joseph Panitz.

  • [--] -- "Forverts-shtunde tseykhent zikh oys mit khanukah program," "Forward," N.Y., 3 Dec. 1937.

  • [--] -- Der ovnt fun yidishn lid, kontsert fun feigele panitsh, "Naye velt," Tel Aviv, 31 Dec. 1937.

  • Celia Silver (Zylbercweig) -- Feigele panitz, di hartsige folkszingerin velkhe shm't ibr gants amerika, "Der amerikaner," N.Y., 9 July 1948.

  • Y. R-g -- Dos gezang fun feigele panitz, "Forward," Mexico, 18 July 1951.

  • S. Posniak -- Oyfn moment, "Farvoys," Mexico, 19 July 1951.

  • Yitskhok Berliner -- Nigun, "Der veg," Mexico, 21 July 1951.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3603.

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