Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Menachem Rubin
(Ekhayzer, Kayzer)
(incomplete translation, w/out most quotations translated)


Born in 1892 in Adamów, a town near Warsaw, Poland. Father -- a leather merchant. From childhood on he sang with a cantor. Very early he left home and as a youth became a Yiddish actor in various itinerant troupes, where he acted under the name of "Kayzer", acting in various lover roles. 1912 -- acted in Lodz's Circus Theatre under the direction of Julius Adler and Nachum Lipovski, where he performed as the first lover, also including the European operetta "Robert and Bertram" (translated by Zalmen Zylbercweig). Later he went over to other troupes, was taken into the Russian Army as a soldier, and  -- according to the information from Julius Adler -- fled with a false passport to Berlin. During the October Revolution he returned to Central Russia and became a commissar over several troupes, then regisseur in Kiev's "Kunst-vinkl (Artist Corner)". Later, as a comic, he toured for several years with Clara Young, then he became a theatre entrepreneur. In 1927 he acted with Julius Adler ("Othello") in the role of "Iago" in Homel. He received an invitation to act in Buenos Aires, and on the way there he put up in Riga, where he in April 1929 performed in Sholem Aleichem's "Stempenyu", then staged "200,000", soon thereafter guest-starring in Kovne, Lite (Lithuania), where he also performed in the operetta "Bayadera". In September 1929 he opened the season in Riga's "New Yiddish Theatre" with an offering of a dramatization of "Beni kenig", according to Babel [about the impression and impact see volume 2, pp. 3434-35].


In November 1929 he guest-starred again in Kovne, where he staged Sholem Aleichem's "200,000", and "Kuni lemel" by Avraham Goldfaden (acting in the role of "R' Pnkhsl").

Kitt in Riga's "Frimorgn" writes:

"...quotation not translated yet..."

Y. Yefimov in "Sevodnya" writes:

"M. Rubin.... quotation not translated yet..."

On 14 January 1930, R. staged "200,000", in Latvian, in the Latvia State Theatre, in Riga, with Amatan Bredit as "Shimele soroker".

In September 1930, R. staged in Warsaw, in the "Novoshtshi" Theatre, Sholem Aleichem's "200,000", then he also put out other plays in Warsaw, among them the stylized offering of Golfaden's "Kuni lemel".

About his offering of Sholem Aleichem's "200,000" in Warsaw, Nachman Meisel wrote:

"M. Rubin is not a great mkhdsh. However, he went on the road of mkhdshim. He came from the Soviet Union, he had seen Meyerkhold, Tayrov and Becker Granovsky. M. Rubin has staged '200,000' according to Granovski....more of quotation yet to be fully translated..."

Zigmunt Turkow writes:

"...Among the regisseurs one also finds Menachem Rubin, who had....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

In September 1931 R. arrived in America, performing at first in a concert as a singer, and staged in November 1931 "200,000" in the "Rolland" Theatre.

N. Buchwald broke down strongly R.'s staging of "Tsvey hundert toyznt (200,000)":

"...'The Big Winner' had...quotation yet to be fully translated..."

Dr. Mukdoni, who was very thrilled by his offering of Sholem Aleichem's "200,000" [see Sh. E. -- biography), also put out especially about his acting in the role of "Shimele sorker":

"Menachem Rubin acts....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

For the 1932 season, R. was engaged in the "Rolland" Theatre as a star in the operetta, and here he staged "Der gasn-zinger (The Street Singer). After a season he went again to Europe, guest-starring in the beginning of 1933 with "200,000" in Kovno. In February 1933 he gave several performances in Warsaw, then joining the troupe "Fakt" (Zygmunt Turkow, A. Stein, Clara Segalowitz, Genya Shlit, Avraham Morevsky), with whom he staged on 10 March 1933 in Lodz's "Skala Theatre", in his translation, "Farkoyfte neshomus" (those who deal with fame), a play in five acts by M. Panieal, and F. Nyura, and participated in the subsequent productions for the troupe in Gold's "Dr. Levy", and Katsizne's "In Crisis". In April he staged in Warsaw's "Kaminski Theatre" the musical comedy "Yoshke der zinger" (music by Sholem Secunda), performing in a song concert in Lodz, and staged and acted in the main role in Warsaw's "Central Theatre" in Simon Wolf's melodrama "Man, mentsh un foter".

N. M. [Meisel] writes about this:

"Abraham Resnik (M. Rubin) ...quotation yet to be fully translated..."

In 1933 R. guest-starred in Vilna, where he staged "Der urteyl", then he went over to directing for Yiddish theatre in Krakow, directing there "200,000" and "Kuni lemel", and in January 1934 he returned to America.

Here he joined, as a star, the "Public Theatre" (direction -- Roland), and staged "Dray mener un a meydl fun idisher lesh" (music -- Joseph Rumshinsky). On 28 March 1935 R. was taken in as a member in the Yiddish Actors Union. He acted for several season in America, and in the summer of 1938 he went to guest-star in Argentina, where he staged "200,000", "Kuni lemel", William Siegel's "Zayn farshpilte velt", and "Tsvey veltn" ["Kol Nidre"] by B. Winchenko.

Returning to America, R. acted again for the 1938-39 season in the "Public Theatre", where he staged the play "Der kluger nar", then in other theatres, guest-starred across the province, and in 1944 he acted with Ben-Ami in the "Folks Theatre".

In 1946-47, R. acted in the "Yiddish Art Theatre". In October 1947 he guest-starred, together with Jennie Goldstein, in Chicago, in the play "Ir eyntsike libe".

In the years 1950-1952, R. went on two tours across America and Canada under the supervision of the Jewish National Worker's Union, and he performed in about sixty to seventy cities and towns and staged, outside of a great concert, also Mark Schweid's play in two acts and three scenes,, "A shtetl vakht oyf" (music -- Sholem Secunda), About this performance, Al. Harris, who participated in the tour says:

"Menachem Rubin never left....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

In 1954 R. guest-starred in the land of Israel.

In October 1956 he staged in New York with the "Yiddish Theatre Ensemble" Sholem Aleichem's "Hard to Be a Jew" and acted in the role of "David Shapiro".

[About the offering and the acting, see the impressions of Ehrenreich and Dr. Swerdlin (pp. 3395-96.)]

And about R.'s acting in "Hard to Be a Jew" by the "Yiddish Art Theatre", Dr. N. Swerdlin writes:

"That Menachem Rubin is one of our best, gifted actors....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

In 1958 R. again guest-starred in Argentina. In March 1958 he performed under the direction of David Licht in the dramatization "Mayn tatns bit din shtibl" by I. Bashevis, and on 3 May 1958 he acted as "Bar Kochba" in David Licht's adapted play according to Avraham Goldfaden, Joseph Opatoshu, David Pinski, Shlomo Rosenberg and Professor Simon Dubnow.

T. Beilin writes about his acting:

"Menachem Rubin....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

Returning from Argentina, R. entered into  the "National Theatre" of L. Freiman and H. Kalmanowitz.

In the 1961-62 season, R. staged in the "Mayfair Theatre" H. Kalmanowitz's play "Go Fight City Hall".

"...In the Mayfair Theatre....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

On 18 June 1962 R. passed away in New York.

The showman Al. Harris writes:

"Menachem Rubin was the actor of a wide, massive scope; the actor who had....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

And according to Harris, R. had told him that when he was in the "Moscow Art Theatre", he acfed in Andreyev's "The Seven Who Were Hanged"....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

"The entire theatre profession....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

In the necrology of "Yiddish Culture", it was said:

"...Across 40 years he was with love and life connected with the Yiddish stage for which he had great merit. ...he played an important role in the best Yiddish theatres in America, worked in the important theatre activities. ..he was a close friend of Ikuf and participated in many of his activities, innovations and concerts. He was a human being with a serious attitude for the Yiddish word, for the Yiddish stage, and all the time....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

Chaim Ehrenreich characterized him as such:

"The entire....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

And as to R. as a human being, Ehrenreich writes:

"Menachem Rubin....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

Dr. N. Swerdlin writes:

"Menachem Rubin was a good actor. One of our best and most intelligent. Menachem Rubin also could sing and....quotation yet to be fully translated..."

M. E. from Julius Adler.

  • M. Gertz -- Rubins "stempenyu", "Frimorgn", Riga, 8, April 1929.

  • L-ka -- Tsum ern-ovnt fun m. rubin in nayem yidishn teater, dort, 30 April 1929.

  • K. [M. Kitay] -- Ern-ovnt fun m. rubin, dort, 3 May 1929.

  • K. M. -- Vos hot m. rubin oyfgeton, dort, 23 June 1929.

  • Einmolike oysgabe fun "nayem idishn teater" [in riga vegn "kuni leml"].

  • R. R. [Rubinstein] -- Rubin, "idishe shtime", Kovno, 4 July 1929.

  • A-n -- M. rubin also zinger, dort, 8 July 1929.

  • A-n -- "Bayadera" (oyfgefirt fun m. rubin), dort, 15 July 1929.

  • Kitt -- Erefenung fun fertn sezon in "nayem yidishn teater", "Beni kenig", instsenizirung loit babel. Rezhi -- m. rubin, dekoratsyes -- M. Ya, "Frimorgn", Riga, 22 September 1929.

  • M. Ya, "Frimorgn", Riga, 22 Sept. 1929.

  • B. Zelik Mink -- Bay m. rubinen, zayne gasgroln in lite, "Idishe shtime", Kovne, 28 November 1929.

  • H. Shik -- "200,000" fun sholem-aleichem in yidishn teater (1-ter oyftrit fun m. rubin), dort, 28 Nov. 1929.

  • A foygel -- 200,000 fun sholem-aleichem , oyfgefirt in teater "novoshtshi". Rezhi: menachem rubin, dekoratsyes: matskevitsh, "Haynt", Warsaw, 7 Sept. 1930.

  • Elkhanan Tseitlin -- M. rubins oyftrit in "200,000 fun sholem-aleichem "unzer ekspres", Warsaw, 8 Sept. 1930.

  • Nachman Meizel -- Sholem aleichems 200,000 in novotshtsi teater, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, N' 37, 1930.

  • Yakov Patt -- Simele soroker, der groyser geviner ... "naye folks-tsaytung", Warsaw, 10 Sept. 1930.

  • B. K--s -- Sholem aleichems: 200,000. Rezhi un instsenizatsye: Menachem  rubin. teater "novoshtsi", "Moment", Warsaw, 14 Sept. 1930.

  • Dr. Y. Vortsman -- Menachem rubin -- an ersht-klasiker kinstler, "Brooklyn Jewish Voice", N. Y., 2 October 1931.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Gezang un shpil" -- "Morning Journal", N. Y., 2 October 1931.

  • William Edlin -- A nayer oysteytsher pun'm idishn folks-lid", "Tog", N. Y., 2 Oct. 1931.

  • L. Fogelman -- Menachem rubin's oyftrit in roland teater, "Forward", N. Y., 3 Oct. 1931.

  • N. Buchwald -- sholem aleichem's "groyse gevins" mit kunst pretenzies in bronzvil, "Morgn frayhayt", N. Y., 6 November 1931.

  •  B. Y. Goldstein -- Dos iz epes andersh, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 13 November 1931.

  • Dr. Y. Vortsman -- Vegen ales tsu bislekh, "Brooklyn Jewish Voice", N. Y., 13 November 1931.

  • L, Malakh -- Teaters, "Di prese', Buenos Aires, 25 December 1931.

  • B. Y. Goldstein -- Bronzvil un brodvey, "Fraye arbayter shtime", N. Y., 1 January 1932.

  • William Edlin -- Di 2 naye opereten oyf der idisher bihne, "Tog", N. Y., 1 January 1932.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- "Der gasen zinger" in roland teater, "Forward", N. Y., 1 January 1932.

  • N. M.  -- Menachem rubins gasgtshpiln, "Literarishe bleter", Warsaw, N' 34, 1933.

  • Sh. Dreyer -- "Der urteyl", "Tog", Vilna, 27 December 1933.

  • Dr. L. Zhitnitsky -- Der debut fun menachem rubin in teater "ekselsior", "Prese", Buenos Aires, 3 April 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-retsenzies, "Da"ts", Buenos Aires, 18 April 1938.

  • Dr. L. Zhitnitsky -- Teater-khranik, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 18 April 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-retsenzies, "Da"ts", Buenos Aires, 10 May 1938.

  • Dr. L. Zhitnitsky -- Teater-khranik, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 10 May 1938.

  • T. Beilin -- Notitsn un bamerkungen, dort, 20 May 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- "Da"ts", Buenos Aires, 22 May 1938.

  • Dr. L. Zhitnitsky -- Haynt der ernovnt fun menachem rubin, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 14 June 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-bletlakh, "Da"ts", Buenos Aires, 14 June 1938.Notitsn in bamerkungen, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 14 June 1938.

  • T. Beilin -- Notitsn un bamerkungen, "Prese", Buenos Aires, 17 June 1938.

  • Shmuel Rozhansky -- Teater-retsenzies, "Da"ts", Buenos Aires, 18 June 1938.

  • T. Beilin -- "Bar kochba", "Prese", Buenos Aires", 6 May 1955.

  • Wolf Mercur -- Menachem rubin, der oysteytsher fun a blat telefon, "Nyu-york vokhnblat", 31 August 1955.

  • Dr. N. Swerdlin -- Baym forhang, "Daily Morning Journal", N. Y., 18 October 1956.

  • [--] -- Barimte idisher aktor menachem rubin, geshtorbn, "Forward", N. Y., 20 June 1962.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3657.

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