Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Rose Shoshana
(Ester Ruda Bravarska, Ruzha Yakubovitsh, Kahan)


Sh. was born in Lodz, Poland.

As a child she remained an orphan from her father (who had passed away), who had been a doctor in Kremenchug.

She was educated by her mother; she learned in Becker's gymnasium. At age twelve she began to work [shtoperke], and in the evening learned in the "Folk University" in Geyer's Market in Lodz. As a child she recited and acted in school, and in the summer of 1908 performed in Lodz's Grand Theatre with the Harpe society as "Manka" in Asch's "Got fun nekome (God of Vengeance)" (Director M. M. Titelman) and received recognition from the author and I. L. Peretz.

In 1912 she married writer Lazar Kahan, and in 1912-13 acted in the "Dramatic Arts" society in the role of "Helena" in Pshibishevski's "Tsulib glik," "Gail," Pinski's "Gabri un di froyen," and "Hana" in Hauptmann's "Furman henshl."

In August 1913 she acted in Hebrew in Vienna during the lawyers congress, with the Lodz Hebrew amateur troupe under the direction of Julius Adler, as "Hermina" in Herzl's "Dos naye geto (The New Ghetto)." Shortly thereafter, she was engaged as a professional actress in Lodz's Skala Theatre (Directors: Julius Adler and Herman Serotsky), and she performed as "Anna Demby" in "Kean" by A. Dumas (Yiddish -- Zalmen Zylbercweig),


"Oyfn breg veysl" by Fishl Bimko, "Reter fun moral" by Profan (translated by Sh. and Lazar Kahan, and "A shnidl pedl" by Sholem Asch.

In 1915 she acted in Lodz's Grand Theatre with Moshe David Waxman as "Gilda" in "Rigoletto," "Hugenoten," "Monavana" (title role) by Meterlink, "Shmelts-tog" by Zangwill, "Kapitan Dreyfus" and "Magda" in Sudermann's "Heymat."

In 1917-18, she went over to Warsaw, where she went on as "Oletshke" in Dymov's "Yoshke muzikant (Yoshke the Musician)" in the Central Theatre with Michalesko, "Sonitshka" in Dymov's "Der eybiker vanderer (The Eternal Wanderer)" and "Berta" in Strindberg's "Foter (The Father)."

She returned to Lodz where she became a member of the management of the Lodz Yiddish Artists Union, and she traveled on a tour across Poland with the actors Landau, Federman, Rosen and Krelman with the play "Di zibn gehangene (The Seven Who Were Hanged) by Andreyev (in the role of "Musya"). In 1920 she guest-starred in London in the Pavilion Theatre (Director M. D. Waxman) in the plays "Heymat," "Di teg fun undzer lebn" by Andreyev, "Eyverzukt" by Artsibashev, "Puste kretshme" by Hirshbein, "Yener" by Zapolska and Gordin's "Chasia di yesoyme (Chasia the Orphan)." In 1921 she acted in Lodz (Director Tselmeyster) in "Teresa Raquin" by Emile Zola, with Ester Rukhl Kaminska and Zygmunt Turkow.

In 1922-23 she directed, together with her husband, at the Skala Theatre in Lodz, where guest stars Ester Rukhl Kaminska, Misha Fiszon, Vera Zaslavska, Adolf and Herman Fenigstein acted with: Shlomo Kutner, Wolf Zilberberg, Betty Dalska, Malvina Serotska, Yosef Strugatch, Yakov Gartelevitsh, Sonia Bezman, Andzha Foderman et al. Here Sh. acted in the plays "Di froy vos hot derhgret," "Dybbuk," "Madame X," "Medea," "Revizor" and "Kean."

In 1924  she performed as "Leah" in Anski's "Dybbuk" during her guest appearances in Belgium and Paris (Director: Rubin Friedman). She returned to Warsaw, went into the "Vik"t," which was under the direction of Zygmunt Turkow, and she acted as "Matilda" in Abraham Goldfaden's "La tkhmud," "Mary" in Sholem Asch's "Motke ganef (Motke the Thief)," and "Yehudis" in Gotzkov's "Uriel akosta."

In 1925 she made a tour across Poland in the role of "Sishi" in "Yashivara" by Bokhvits (Ab. Yakov Waxman) with Jack Levy and Abraham Wolfstat, then with Abraham Kurts and Daniel Shapiro, later a word-concert, performing in Peretz's "Nokh kburh" and "Shvester (Sisters)."

In 1926 she participated in the film "Lamedvovnik " (directed by Harry Szaro).

In 1928 she participated in the film "In the Polish Woods" by [Joseph] Opatoshu (directed by Jonas Turkow).

In 1930 she acted with Menachem Rubin in Warsaw's Novoshtshi Theatre in Sholem Aleichem's "Dos groyse gevins (The Big Winner)" and "Kenig zakat" by Isak Babel, and again guest-starring in London with Misha Fiszon, Izidor Buzet and Jacob Silbert.

In 1931 she acted in the "Yiddish Representation (reprezentants) Theatre" in Warsaw's Novoshtshi Theatre with Morevsky, Samberg, Holtzer et al, in "Danton's Death" (Director Dr. Michal Weichert).

In 1931 she directed, together with her husband and the actor Morris Lampe, with the Skala Theatre in Warsaw, where she performed as "Tseytl" in Sholem Aleichem's "Tuviye der milkihger (Teyve the Milkman)" (Director Morris Lampe), "Tanya" in "Der urteyl", "Reyzele" in Farberovitsh's "Urke nakhelnik," translated from the Polish and dramatized by Sh., the parody "Dray dybukim (Three Dybbuks), and the title role of "Bashke," dramatized by Sh. from her own novel. Later she acted in the Novoshtshi Theatre and in the other theatres until 1935, when she guest-starred in Romania with Morris Lampe. In the same year she also acted in Paris where she performed in "Tsyankaly," "Yashivara" and "10 fun pavyak" with Pola Walter and Matityahu Kovalski. In the same year she returned to tour across Poland in "Zind un shtrof" by Emile Zola (dramatized and translated by Sh.) with Daniel Shapiro, Abraham Kurtz and Morris Lampe, later with David Licht and Jacob Reinglas, "Di kort vos gevint" ("Skiz") by Zapolska, with the actors Liza Shlosberg, Strugatch, Alosha Stein and Julia Floym.

In 1937, together with her husband and Morris Lampe, she visited America, but did not perform. She returned, traveling with Morris Lampe, on a tour across France and Belgium with "Tuviye der milkhiger (Tevye the Milkman)," "Urke nakhalnik" and "Bashke".

In 1938 she guest-starred with Morris Lampe in the "Meutim" Theatre in Riga, and in Kovno (Director Rachelle Berger).

In 1939 she began (with Jacob Fisher, Sonya Broderzon, Sheftel Zak, L. Shriftzetser, Berta Veyshof, Ninina and Maniela) a tour across Poland and was seized during the Second World War, bavizn to return to Warsaw, experiencing the bombardment that occurred for eleven weeks under the Nazi regime, and she [then] fled to Vilna, and from there to Kovno, where she had in 1940 put on in their Yiddish theatre (Director Bukanz) "Bashka" and "Dos glik fun morgen" by St. Katsherginski.

In 1941 -- through Siberia -- she came to Japan, where she performed the first evening in Yiddish in Kobe with recitals during a Dubnow evening (together with her husband, Sophia Erlich and M. Perenson. From there, at the end of 1941, in Shanghai, China, where for three years she was saved in the ghetto, acting in order to feed herself, and gave under [conditions of] hunger and need, before going into the ghetto in February 1942, the first Yiddish word-concert in Shanghai. Then she acted with local amateurs and the refugee writers, written from memory Gordin's play "Kreutzer sonata" (role of "Ettie"), "Di shkhite (The Slaughter) -- "Esterke"; "Der umbekanter (The Stranger) -- "Berta"; and "Mirele Efros" -- "Mirele," Sholem Aleichem's "Dos groyse gevins (The Big Winner)" and "Tuviye der milkhiger (Tevya the Milkman)," Shenher's "Dos tayvls-vayb (The Devil's Wife)," and the plays "Dos glik fun morgen," "Di froy vos hot derhrget," "Fun yener velt," "Alts tsulib kinder," "Di mame," and also several revues under the leadership of Lazar Kahan, Adash Svitslotski, Moshe Elbaum and David Markus, under the name "Freylekhe bombe," "Haman-tashn mit reyz" and "12 Kinder."

Barely had she finished performing in "Mirele efros" that she wound up in a hospital with typhus, where she lay for sixteen days.

In 1946 she was brought to America and shortly thereafter performed in scenes from "Mirele Efros" in the National Theatre.

In 1954 she participated in Jonas Turkow's production of Kadia Molodowsky's "A House on Grand Street" in the President Theatre.

In 1955 Sh. was very active in acting in the "Dos naye pleytim (The New Refugees) teater", where there was staged under the direction of David Licht Sholem Aleichem's "Dos farkhshufte shnayderl" (role of "Tsipa Beyla Reyza"). In the same year Sh. acted in Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theatre in the plays "Yoshe Kalb," "The Brothers Ashkenazi," "Riverside Drive," "Sender Blank" and "The Shepherd King" by Treister.

In 1956 and 1957 Sh. ran an "ensemble" theatre, where Menachem Rubin directed, staging "[It's] Hard to be a Jew" and "God, Man and Devil," and under her direction "Mirele Efros" and "Dos glik fun morgen"; under the direction of Jacob Mestel was Stutchkov's "Bay tate-mames tish."

Her literary activity began in 1915 with her translation in the "Lodz folksblat," of Mirbo's "Der toyt fun a hunt," and together with her husband translated "Tayvls vayb (The Devil's Wife)," a drama in five acts by Karl Shenher (Lodz, 1921, p. 56, and, together with her husband; "The reter fun moral" by Profan and by herself the play "Der friling" by Heinrich Zimmerman, "Yener fun gabriela zapolska," "Zind un shtrof" by Emile Zola, "Dr froy vos hot derhrget" by Heriks, "Potash un perlmuter," and she dramatized "Urke nakhalnik" by Farberovitsh and her own novel "Bashka."

From 1924 until 1939 Sh. collaborated in Warsaw's "Hayntige nayes," where she staged under the pseudonym of Esther Brovorska the section "Yede froy dorf dos visn," and also a section in "Radio" for "Moment," under the name "Man, Wife and Family" under the pseudonym of Manya Friling. She published novels under her own name Ruzha Yakubovitsh -- in "Unzer ekspres" the novel "Yung blut," a novel "Panna do dzhietshi" in the newspaper "Pionta rana,", also in the newspapers "Parizer haynt," "Morgen tsaytung" in Riga, Kovno's "Shtime," and "Tog" in Vilna.

In 1940 she was the first to publish in the "Forward" under her own name "Bletlekh fun a tog-bukh," histories about the German horror-[tatens] in Kharbin's Russian newspaper "Yevreyskaya zhizn", the [state notices=mlkhmh-notitzn] "In Fire and Flames" (that in 1949, with a forward by F. Bimko, published in Buenos Aires in the book series "Dos poylishe yidntum,", p. 399.

In 1946 she published in the "Forward" and in "The American (Amerikaner)," a series of articles about life in China.

Since 1947 a standing collaboration in the "Forward", where under the name of Mary Rowan (she ran a section  "Di froy in der heym," and where she also published under her name the following twelve novels:

1947 February 15 to December 27   "Ven a harts iz yung"
1948 April 24 to December 8   "Dos geyeg nokh glik"
1949 April 24 to October 20   "Ven a mame muz shveygen"
1950 April 1 to October 2   "Tsveyter friling"
1951 April 24 to September 20   "Kinder ohn tates"
1952 April 19 to October 3   "Plonter fun leben"
1953 April 5 to August 30   "Ven ir di mame"
1954 April 24 to August 31   "Ir mames sud"
1955 April 15 to September 8   "Libe un has"
1956 April 6 to August 25   "Nakhes fun kinder"
1957 May 17 to September 23   "Far zayere zind"
1958 May 2 to October 8   "Yung blut"

Several of the novels were also published in Argentina's "Prese," [Canada's] "Keneder odler" and in Munich's "Shtime."

In December 1947 in the Parkway Theatre under the direction of Nathan Goldberg there was staged Sh.'s dramatization of her novel "Ven dos harts iz yung" with Miriam Kressyn in the main role, with the author as narrator.

In November 1950 at the Parkway Theatre directed by Nathan Goldberg there was staged Sh.'s dramatization of her novel "Zayer tsveyter friling (Their Second Spring)," and in the Clinton Theatre under the direction of Israel Rosenberg, and in his dramatization in the continuous, weekly offerings of Sh.'s novel "In geyeg nokh glik."

In 1951 Sh. visited the land of Israel and set up a contact between the local and American Yiddish actors.

In 1957 Sh. visited Turkey and wrote about local life in the "Forward."

Sh.'s husband, Lazar Kahan, a well-known Yiddish writer, theatrical, editor and society activist, passed away from a spot of typhus on 26 May 1946 in Shanghai. Their two sons, Efrim and Samuel (Elek and Melek), students of the Warsaw Politechnium, disappeared in the territory of the Soviet Union. Their daughter, Lili, is a singer.

Sh. E.

  • Chone Gottesfeld -- Poylishe iden hoben dem mut nit farloren, zogt lazar kahan, "Forward", N. Y., 2 February 1932.

  • Nachman Meyzil -- Urke nakhalnik, "Yidishe kultur", N. Y., N' 2, 1946, p. 24.

  • J. Kirschenbaum -- Idishe plitim in Shanghai feyeren Sholem Aleichem un gordin yohrtseyten, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 24 May 1946.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- Idishe akterise shildert di tragishe lage fun idishe plitim in Shanghai, dort, 8, November 1946.

  • R. Shoshana -- Idishe deklamatsye ratevet idishe shreyber, "Der amerikaner", N. Y., 28 February 1947.

  • R. Shoshana -- Vi azoy kh'hob geshpilt idish teater in bine, "Der amerikaner", N. Y., 21 March 1947.

  • L. Fogelman -- "Ven dos harts iz yung" in parkvey teater, "Forward", N. Y., 12 December 1947.

  • David Matis -- "Ven dos harts iz yung", "Morgn frayhayt", N. Y., 23 January 1948.

  • Chaim Ehrenreich -- Eyndruken fun "Ven dos harts iz yung", in parkvay teater, "Forward", N. Y., 23 January 1948.

  • R. Shoshana -- Kahan -- "In feyer un flamen", Buenos Aires, 1949, p. 399.

  • Yankev Botoshansky -- Tsvishn yo un neyn, "Di prese", Buenos Aires, 25 April 1949.

  • David Markus -- Nokh a vertful bukh, "Folksblat", Montevideo, 17 November 1949.

  • Yankev Botoshansky  -- Neyer roman harts in yung, "Di prese", Buenos Aires, 27 January 1950.

  • Hillel Rogoff -- "In feyer un flamen" -- Tog-bukh fun di mlkhmh yohren, "Forward", N. Y., 7 May 1950.

  • Chaim Ehrenreich -- Hot durkhgelebt a soyderlekhen vander-veg biz zi in gekumen keyn amerike, dort, 22 October 1950.

  • Louis Sheffer -- Curtain Time, "Brooklyn Eagle," N. Y., November 7, 1950.

  • E. Fleishman -- "Zeyer tsveyter frihling" in parkvay teater, "Der tog", N. Y., 1 November 1950.

  • Kh. Gutman -- Di naye pyese in's parkvay teater, "Morning Journal", N. Y., 16 November 1950.

  • L. Fogelman -- "Zeyer tsveyter frihling" -- Naye oyffirung in parkvay teater, "Forward", N. Y., 17 November 1950.

  • Rose Shoshana -- Sara Adler in kafe "Royal", dort, 12 July 1952.

  • Chaim Ehrenreich -- Sholem Aleichem's "Dos farkhshufte shneyderl" in dem "Nayem teater", dort, 4 March 1955.

  • Dr. N. Swerdlin -- Oybergerisn, ober nit opgeshtelt, "Day Morning Journal", N. Y., 8 February 1957.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3, page 2245.

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