Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Wolf Shumsky


S. was born on 22 December 1886 in Minsk, White Russia. He learned in a cheder and in a Volozhin yeshiva and later completed a gymnasium in Minsk. He studied music privately, then in Warsaw's music school, and he participated gratis in orchestras so that he would be able to hear orchestral concerts.

Returning to Minsk he entered into the orchestra of a Russian theatre, where he performed for three winters, and later in Yiddish theatre (Directors Tsuker and Nozyk) where he also debuted as "Hertzog" in Lateiner's "Khinke un pinke". His performance had such success that he remained in the troupe for several months as an actor. Then he acted for a season with Zandberg in Lodz, and after military service -- in the Yiddish troupes of Lipovski (Vilna), Genfer (Vilna), Kompaneyets (Warsaw). For a certain time he also toured across Russia with the troupe of Esther Rukhl Kaminska.

During the war Sh. participated with the Yiddish actors in a Hebrew production in Vilna, and he went afterwards with Lipovski's troupe to Harbin, where he acted for six years and was also secretary of the the Yiddish club there, the Sholem Aleichem school and Sholem Aleichem garden, which developed a rich Yiddish cultural activity. Here he also composed his operetta, "Liovke molodiets" [published anonymously in Warsaw, publisher Sh. Goldberg, 1925, 54 pp., but really it is completely Isidore Lash's operetta "Yoshke khvat"], which Lebedeff directed on 12 October 1920 in New York's National Theatre.

The operetta, season-long, was performed on many Yiddish stages across the world. He left Harbin due to political conditions, Sh. traveled with Abraham Fiszon's troupe to Shanghai (China), where Yiddish theatre was performed for the first time. Not being able for several months to proceed with the productions, Sh. entered into a club as a musician, and twice conducted an orchestra for a half-year.

Through the recommendation of Boris Thomashefsky, who had performed with him in Russia, Sh. was brought to America where he debuted on 31 December 1924 in Rosa Silbert's theatre [Hopkinson] as "Velvel Shaygets" in Isidore Lash's operetta with the same name (music by Herman Zalis and W. Shumsky.) After acting for ten weeks in the operetta, Sh. had to, due to union conditions, tour within the province: he acted for two years in Winnipeg (Canada), then in St. Louis, in 1929 in Detroit, where he passed away on 20 May 1929.

Sh.'s wife, Fela Lantzman-Shumsky, has acted on the Yiddish stage.

Sh.'s sister, Miriam Lifshitz, has acted in Yiddish theatre in the Soviet Union.

M. E. and M. E. from S. Kustin.

  • Ab. Cahan -- Vider a naye komedye in thomashefsky's teater, "Forward", N. Y., 14 October 1920.

  • L. Krishtol -- Teater ala bronzvil, "Fraye arbeiter shtime", N. Y., 16 January 1925.

  • Sh. Pan [Shayak] -- "A khshre shikse" [?], operete in 3 akts fun shumsky, oyfgefirt fun kambarov in pavilon teater, '''Di post", London, 15 December 1930.






Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 3,  page 2127.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.