Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Jacob Silbert
(Kulish; Zilbert)


Born on 5 April 1871 in Lutsk, Volin Gubernia. On the mother's side -- Zilbert. Parents -- owners of an import house.

At the age of ten he sang as an alto with Cantor Moshe Soroker. At age fourteen he went away to Rovno, and there he was for a short time a choir boy with Zeydel Rovner, then in Odessa with Cantor Nisl Blumental. As a singer, he turned to the milieu of Yiddish actors, and under the influence of Fiszon he was taken into his chorus. After touring for a long time across the province under very difficult economic conditions, S. performed for the troupe and together with comic Finkel, he toured across the province with "Yiddish concerts", in which they sang various theatre songs. Due to disturbances by the powers, the concerts were cut short.

Due to military conscription, he fled to Galicia, successfully arriving into the local Yiddish troupes and traveling to America, where he became engaged some months later as a chorister and episodic  actor in Adler's Union Theatre (New York, 8th Street). Here S. debuted as "The Buyer" in Goldfaden's "Melits yushr" ["Rabbi Joselman"], and later in more responsible roles. After a short time, S. went again across the province together with the Tanzmans and the Wilenskys. Here there came a conflict between the troupe and Adler due to that in which S. played "David Mosheles" in Gordin's "The Jewish King Lear", which he had illegally rewritten when the production was in New York. A short time later, S. opened together with Sam Adler et al. the


Front Street Theatre in Baltimore, where they played for a season. S. then went to London, where he acted for a long time and directed for the first time in Europe Gordin's "The Jewish King Lear."

From London S. became engaged to Paris and then for the Bucharest Jignitsa, where he directed "The Jewish King Lear" with Kalich as "Toybele". From there S. went over to Goldfaden's troupe in Iasi and performed as "Avraham" in Goldfaden's "the Sacrifice of Isaac" ("Sarah" -- Malvina Lobel, "Yitzhak" -- Goldie Shapiro), and then was engaged as an actor and theatre director for Lemberg and Gimpel, acting for a short time in Budapest, and with Abraham Akselrad in Romania, and again in Bucharest's Jignitsa with Segalesco. There Z. opened (together with his future wife, Liza Rozenblum, with her father and Lazer Tsukerman) a Yiddish vaudeville theatre, which existed for a year and organized then an itinerant troupe across Romania, in which Mogulesco guest-starred when he visited Europe. After Mogulesco's return trip to America, the troupe went away to Constantinople, from where S. with his family traveled to Cairo and were taken in to play in a local Yiddish troupe. S. also tried to play Yiddish theatre in the Land of Israel, but due to the disturbances of the local Jewish representative, he had to be satisfied with a concert of Yiddish songs.

Now Z. turned back to Europe, migrated about for a short time until he united with Chona Wolfshtat and Yitzhak Auerbach in Budapest and acted there for a season. Then S. went over to the Thalia Theatre in Berlin, and under the initiative of Prof. Live(?) of the German opera, he began to study music, but soon he became through Horowitz engaged for the Windsor Theatre in New York, where he performed as "Bar kochba". The coming season S. acted in Chicago with Glickman, then managed a theatre by himself in Chicago, then the Hub Theatre in Boston (for two seasons together with Joseph Lateiner and Louis Gottlieb), and then companies across the province. Later S. directed with the Third Street Theatre in New York, and a season with a theatre on 110th Street and 5th Avenue, the summer guest-starring in Poland and Russia (Warsaw, Lodz, Odessa), and then in Argentina, and after returning to America he again toured across the province and acted in theatre on the Roof Garden in the Second Avenue Theatre.

1924-25 -- S. acted across the province.

1926 -- with Thomashefsky in Philadelphia.

Summer 1927 -- guest-starring with his wife in Paris and in Berlin, and in the winter season he acted in the Bronx's McKinley Square Theatre.

1928 -- guest-starred in Europe and toured across Poland with his own troupe.

S. staged many plays, which he had specially [in his name] adapted for his troupes.

Sh. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vo. II, pp. 150, 199.

  • Y. Uger -- Shylock, "Lodz", "Der tog", N. Y., 1 July 1925.

  • Noach Prilutski -- "Yidish teater", Bialystok, 1921, Vol. II, pp. 97-103.

  • Berta Kalich -- (Memoirs), "Der tog", N. Y., 1 July 1925.

  • Michael Weichert -- "Teater un drame", Vol. I, pp. 129-33.

  • Jacob Silbert -- Yidish teater in yerushalayim, "Teater-zikhrunut", editor Z. Zylbercweig, Vilna, 1928, pp. 32-38).






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 778.

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