Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Zelig Schorr
[Yosef-Aharon Asher-Zelig]


Born in 1936 in Sokolovke, Galicia. His father was the local rabbi R' Yehoshua-Heshl Schorr. Sh.'s brothers: R' Eliezer, was rabbi in Chelm; R' Nate -- rabbi  in Lublin; R' Leibush -- in Dubenko (Dubienka); R' Yekutiel -- in Podkamen.

As the first-born Sh. was a substitute for his father who later was rabbi in Yozefov (Józefów) and Dubenko. But he was the first of an entire series of generations of rabbis who went off onto an entirely other path, and for many years was extended from his family. At first during the time of the Russian-Japanese War, due to the bad economic conditions of his family, he entered into an change in their relationship.

People called him "Eli from Poland." At the age of sixteen, in Brody, he married the fourteen-year-old single daughter of the local rabbi Itzhak Elihu Dares, who later had gone into commerce. Here he learned German with his wife and became acquainted with the former representative of the Haskalah, such as R' Nachman Krokhmal, his relative Yehoshua-Heshl Schorr, who was director of "HaChalutz," Itzhak Leteres and Dr. Gretz. He began to learn other subjects, but his family began to persecute him, until they took his wife away from him and people forced him to leave Brody. He traveled to Romania, where he became a teacher for a short time, perfecting himself in his studies and became director of the municipal school in Galatz (Romania), where he received an award from King Carlos; the old Romanian Minister Bratiana also attended his school.

Also among Sh.'s students was the future famous German and then Yiddish actor Morris Morrisson. In Galatz he also formed a friendship with Peretz Smolenskin and Velvl Zbarzher.

Due to his reuniting with his wife and children, Sh. was appointed as a religion professor in the Prince Rudolf Gymnasium, but he could no longer hold on to one place, and in 1876 he went to Odessa. Here he became friends with Avraham Goldfaden, Shomer, Moshe-Leib Lilienblum, Tsederbaum and I. L. Lerner, with whom he planned to found a Hebrew theatre. When the plan did not succeed, he began in 1877 to perform on the Yiddish stage in Odessa, later in Romania and since 1888 with Gimpel in Galicia, where he also staged the Obercantor I. Z. Halpern's historical operetta, "Nbukhdntsr," playing the title role.

In the years 1906-07 Sh. was in America. At the end of 1908 he returned to Galicia, and on 6 April (first day of Passover) in 1909 he passed away in Lemberg.

According to his son, Moshe Schorr, to his funeral gepravet from the religious Jewish world, and actors were not admitted. "Now he is fully ours" -- religious Jews claimed. In one of the Lemberg houses of study, there would lay a page on a prayer book, which was written by Sh.

Sh. was one of the important and beloved actors of his time. People called him "The Yiddish Zonental." According to Jacob Mestel, Sh. for many years suffered from asthma. However, regardless of this, he constantly impressed with his fine diction and slender figure -- his personality descended down from the stage. His weakness was in speaking German. About this, Dr. M. Berkowitz writes:

"As to the attitude [to speaking German on the Yiddish stage], he had strongly overtaken the older Schorr, who was a maskil, and had a nice measure of learning. His "Rufus" (in 'Bar Kochba), his, 'Ahasheurus' and other lofty personalities had in no way driven him to speak plain Yiddish, as the other people on the stage; thereby he had acquired renown not only as one who was educated, but also as a great artist, of which the public had actually used the finger [?]. I mentioned to him, when I, by chance, several days back was listening to a conversation held between two older Galician Jews, who could still today after more than forty years, not forget the elder Schorr as the greatest of the former actors in Yiddish theatre, who had excelled with his German speech, from his other Yiddish-speaking colleagues."

Sh.'s older daughter, Rivka, was for a short time a Yiddish actress of scarce importance. His son Moshe was a Yiddish theatre director, actor and playwright in America, and Sh.'s son, Shlomo -- a Yiddish actor in Galicia.

Sh. E. from Moshe and Anshel Schorr.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre," Vol. II, p. 143.

  • Berta Kalich -- [Memoirs], "Der Tog," N. Y., 18 April 1925.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- Vegn di umbakante yidishe dramaturgn, "Pinkas," N. Y., 1, 1929.

  • Dr. M. Berkowitz -- Vegn "deytsh" oyf der yidisher bine, "Literarishe bleter," Warsaw, 1, 1933.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Teater-figurn," Buenos Aires, 1936, pp. 23-26.

  • J. Kirschenbaum -- In ertsoygen gevoren tsu zayn rebbe, iz antlofen fun der heym un gevoren an aktyor un boyer fun idishen teater, "Morgn zhurnal," N. Y., 13 November 1938.

  • Sholem Perlmutter -- "Yidishe dramaturgn un teater-kompozitors," New York, 1952, pp. 228-29.







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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2139.

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