Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Sender Badkhan
(Eliyahu Elkhasnador Fidelman)

Born in 1825 [7] in Minsk, White Russia. His father was Reuben the Klezmer --  renowned as a good violinist.

At first his father had him learn acting, and Sender had indeed manifested an ability as a talented violinist and guitar player, but a little later his father realized that being a badkhan can provide a good income, and he impressed on Sender that he should be a badkhan.

Sender had very quickly acquired a name in Minsk and in its environs, as, that he himself no merveyniker of weddings(?) in the extended points of White Russia, in Vilna, Grodno, and many other cities, due to the fact that he even bought his own horse and carriage.

Sender learned magic from a German and used to perform tricks at weddings.

Sender was a little scholar, had a pure, aummitlbare nature, with free, bahemishe inclinations, was gifted with a folksy humor, and carried in himself a genuine poetic spark.

Thanks to Paulina Wengrow, there was put into print two song collections of Sender: "Shiri osf, oder, Di kleynshtetildige khasene, mas elkhasnador sender fidelman, vilne, Shnt tr"lg [1873], and " Lider tsum tsayt fertreybung, mas elkhasnador fidelman, Vilna, 1877".


Among his manuscripts, what remains of them, one finds a drama with the name "Shimshen hagiber (Samson, the Hero)", which on itself had the date of 1883, and a large series of songs that was never published, apparently from various dates, although in one volume of a manuscript is [written] the year 1879.

In his own handwriting (according to N. A. [N. Auslander]), Fidelman was the type of a folk writer with a sense for real life, to local facts and farheltnishn. In antithesis to other badkhans, Fidelman made little of general observations, but more with realistic, genre images, for which he had a sharp eye. He was a master of portraying shapes. His figure came out light with a little groblekhn humor, but they lived on for the eyes (?) and remained it one's memory. In his description of the Minsk Jewish environment, he always turned his eye towards the corner of need and poverty.

For a short time, Sender was also a court jester for the Lubavich rabbi, and once between Sender ad a second court jester Pesakh Eli Badkhan, had a word duel.

About his work as a badkhan, especially known for his interpretation of the Psalms which used to appear heretical, and due to this the rabbis looked at him askance.

For a certain time he was a chubby person with a belly, with a healthy carp (?), going about richly dressed, and with a golden chain on his breast. He also was an amateur photographer.

According to Yakov Zizmor, Sender was a master of languages, and he used to write versions (nuskhus) on gravestones (tombs).

  • B. Slutzky -- Yidishe badkhonim-shoyshpiler, "Tsaytshrift", Minsk, 1926, Vol. I, pp. 259-60.

  • N. A. -- Tsu b. slutzky's badkhonim-shoyshpiler, "Tsaytshrift", Minsk, 1926, Vol. I, pp. 262-4.

  • Yakov Zizmor -- Fun mayne zikhrunus vegn badkhanim, "Pinkus", Vilna, 1922, p. 877.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 142.

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