Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Chaim Sloves

Born on 19 June 1905 in Bialystok, Poland. His father was a leather worker who, after the First World War, took up trading and
"making money out of thin air." He learned for two years in a reformed cheder, then he entered a Russian school, which during World War I was transformed into a German school. In 1916 S. entered the first full normal day school with Yiddish as a language of instruction, with the "Yungt-farein (youth association)" in Bialystok.

About the school and the influence that it had on him, Dr. S. writes:

"...The blasphemous Yiddish word, the Yiddish song were the daily bread of our new, spiritual home -- of our school. Yiddish writers are seen as heroes of legend. In a neighboring room, boys were kneeling, uninhibited and being bored, learning a Parsha from the Chumash or a page of Gemara. learning a chapter of Mendele, a page of Peretz. ...The cult for the language of people, and for the living literature of people freely opened our eyes on the major problems of people's lives. The school thus became the first laboratory for Jewish society."

From the early years S. had a passionate interest in theatre. And with the neighborhood children  he organized "spectacles" under
 the free sky, in the courts of their residents, and it was called a


"circus." The first production in Yiddish theatre, from "Chantshe in America," which he saw as a child of six or seven years, Made him a truly dreaded impression, because the Jewish school found itself in proximity to the state theater, where his father's friend was a cashier, he received a warrant to attend the rehearsals of the actors, and to Quiet though the burning theater thirst, he said, together with the students and male and female students of the Yiddish school, began to organize "events," of which he was director, stage director and main actor. The repertoire consists of Sholem Aleichem's one-acters, and also of "plays" that S. alone wrote. His first dramatic work was a dramatization of a chapter of Mendele's "Fishke der krumer," then a drama in half an act, then a four-act play in knowing fares under the name, "A shvere operatsye (A Difficult Operation?)" (which in 1926 he turned over to David Herman, where it was lost.)

S. founded, together with a friend, a theatre society "Fareyn fun yungt-libhober der kunst (Union of Young Lovers of the Arts?)," and soon received the Parsha: Komsomol. In July 1920 he was taken into the Red Army in Bialystok, which left around a month later, and together with a large part of Bialystok youth left for the East: Minsk, Smolensk, Moscow, then returned to the West: again Smolensk, Minsk, Bialystok, Warsaw, other cities in Poland (underground youth revolutionary work), was arrested and put in a Polish jail, until he immigrated to France, joining in a Paris lyceum, where he learned for two years, then studied for five years in the university (Sorbonne), where he graduated with a title of Doctort of Jurisprudence. In the span of these years, S. wrote a lot, in French, and (1935-38) turned over three books about international law and modern history.

In 1936, during a flurry of Nazi movement, S. threw himself entirely onto Jewish cultural work. He was one of the initiators of the secular Jewish cultural congress in Paris, secretary of the organizer committee, and one of the prominent main architects of he congress. He also opened the celebratory conference  of the congress on 17 September 1937, and then was chosen as the secretary of the newly founded "Ikuf." He later made a tour for "Ikuf" across the Baltic countries and Western Europe (Belgium, Holland, England).

After the panic of the first days of the Second World War, he began to write a play in Yiddish, "Hamans mapelah," and it was sent away to New York to the "Yiddish Art Theatre," where however it did was not produced. The play (published in 1949 in Paris), on 17 February 1945, N. Buchwald's adaptation as "Folks-shpil" in three acts and eleven scenes," music by Moshe Rauch, sets by Leo Kortz, staged through the 'Theatre Ensemble of Jewish Fraternal People's Order" in New York in the "Fraternal Clubhouse," under the direction of Benjamin Zemach, and later through him with the "Folksbiene" in Los Angeles. On 30 January 1946 the play under the direction of Oscar Fessler was presented through (Yikut") (Yiddish Art Theatre) in Paris, and afterwards played less than half a season there again, revived on 31 December 1948; 3 September 1949, the play under the direction of Yitskhok Grudberg, staged in Poland, in the Jewish State Theatre, named after Ester Rokhl Kaminska; on 17 September 1949 the play was presented under the direction of Zygmunt Turkow in a drama circle with the Sholem Aleichem Library in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 28 December 1949 the play, under the direction of Oscar Fessler was presented through the Yiddish Folks Theatre in Brussels, Belgium, and on 31 May 1957, through Oscar Fessler, it was presented through "Ift" in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The same play also, in the Spanish translation (according to the author's French translation) by Rafael Alberti and Maria Teresa Leon, presented under the direction of Oscar Fessler, 22 December 1962 in the University Theatre of Buenos Aires.

During the Hitler invasion he fled from Paris to Vichy, where S. there wrote in Yiddish and in French the drama "Oyf di vegn fun frankreykh." The French text after the war was taken to be presented for a French theatre, but it was never realized.

From Vichy he settled in Lyon, and S., with his family, as Jews, needed to transition to an illegal life. S. then became active in the underground resistance movement and wrote for its calling, and articles for the illegal publications, while at the same time in Yiddish, the never-performed play, "Di gele late."

After the liberation S. wrote his drama, "Nekome-nember" (published in 1947 in Paris), which on 1 November 1947 was staged in Paris, France, under the direction of Jonas Turkow, through "Yikut"; 21 December 1947, under the direction of David Licht, in new York, through the "Yiddish Theatre Ensemble," and in 1948, under the direction of Jonas Turkow, as an abstract in one act, on a tour across the French cities for the "Jewish National Arbeter Farband"; on 8 April 1948 the play was staged in Buenos Aires, Argentina, through "Ift" under the direction of David Licht; in May 1948 the play was presented under the direction of Iza Shapiro through the "Jewish State Theatre" in Romania; on 29 May 1948 Zygmunt Turkow presented the lay with a drama circle for the Sholem Aleichem Library in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then in other cities; on 31 January 1949 the play was staged under the direction of Tamara Samonov in the Folks Theatre for the Culture Federation in Johannesburg, South Africa, then in other cities; on 16 November 1950 the play under the direction of W. Weissdorf was staged through a dramatic group in Malmo, Switzerland. The play also in 1948 was played in Holland, and also it was presented in Mexico.

The play received the award from Moshe Kasner-Fond in Buenos Aires.

In May 1950 there was staged in Buenos Aires by David Licht through "Ift" S.'s play, "Jonah and the Whale" (published in 1953 in Paris). The play received the prize of the Moshe Kasner Fund in Argentina.

In August 1950, under the direction of Zygmunt Turkow, there was presented through a drama circle of the Sholem Aleichem Library in Rio de Janeiro S.'s drama in five acts, "Di tsayt fun gezang" (first act under the name, "Di letste," published in Paris in 1953. It was staged in Poland in 1961.) The play on 4 December 1950, under the name, "Et hazamir" in the Hebrew translation of M. Krugh? , under the direction of Weislitz, staged through "Ahl" in Tel Aviv.

In 1954 in "Yiddish Culture" in New York there was published S.'s one-acter, "Der chtb fun rekhts oyf links," which was staged in 1960 through a dramatic circle in Gleiwitz, Poland; 24 June 1961, under the direction of Max Shnayderman, with the dramatic group with Ikuf in New York, and in 1961 with a dramatic circle in Pataluma, as well as in Argentina.

In October 1957 a one-acter under the direction of Gabriel Garan was staged in French in the "Mutualite" Theatre in Paris. The one-acter also was played in Spanish through a young drama circle in Brazil.

In 1956 S. published in "Yiddish Culture" (N.Y.) his drama, "Barukh fun amsterdam," which soon thereafter was published in a separate issue. Fragments of the play on 14 December 1956 were given through "Yikut" in Paris. The play on 24 March 1961 was presented under the direction of Meir Melman through the Jewish State Theatre in Poland with Ida Kaminska in the title role of "Manuela," and later, through the theatre, was staged during his guest appearance in London and Paris. On 7 May 1962 the play was staged (in costume and makeup, but in the form of a dramatic reading), under the direction of Bret Warren in new York in the auditorium of the "Folksbiene," through the "New Yiddish Theatre,"

The first scene of the play, in the author's French adaptation, was published in a French journal, "Damen yidish" (1958), and the second scene of the third act in Polish, in the Polish supplement of the Warsaw "Folkstsaytung" (1961).

In 1962 in "Yiddish Culture" there was published S.'s drama, "Di milkhome fun got."

S. also completed a play, "Tsen brider zaynen mir geven."

In March 1958 S. visited Soviet Russia and then (1959, 2) published in New York's "Yiddish Culture" a revised article about the attitude of Yiddish cultural problems. In 1962 S. visited America and performed in a series of "Ikuf" celebrations.

S. also often wrote articles about various Yiddish cultural problems.

S.'s published plays:

1. Ch. Sloves
(tragedy in three acts, nine scenes)
"Oyfsnay" Publishers, Paris, (1947, 94 pp.)

1a. Ch. Sloves
(second act, published in A. Goldberg's "Unzer dramaturgye," New York, 1961, pp. 501-512).

2. Ch. Sloves
Hamans mapelah
Folks-shpil in fir aktn
"Oyfsnay" Publishers, Paris, (1949, 103 pp.)

3. Ch. Sloves
Jonah and the Whale
"Oyfsnay" Publishers, Paris, (1953, 117 pp.)

4. Ch. Sloves
Di letste
First act of he play, "Di tsayt fun gezang"
("Parizer tsaytshrift," April 1953)

5. Ch. Sloves
Der khtb fun recht oyf links
("Yiddish Culture," New York, N' 3, 1954, pp. 20-23)

6. Baruch from Amsterdam
(drama in four acts, nine scenes) from Ch. Sloves
("Yiddish Culture," New York, N' 4, 5, 6, 1956)

6a. Baruch fun Amsterdam
(drama in four acts, nine scenes)
(with an introduction by the author)
"Ikuf," New York, (1956, 111 pp., 32o)

7. Di milkhome fun got
(drama in three acts, eight scenes)
by Ch. Sloves (Paris)
("Yiddish Culture" N.Y., N' 2, 3, 4, 1962)

In French:

1. Baruch from Amsterdam
First scene
"Domen yiddish," N' 1, 1958.

In Polish:

1. Baruch from Amsterdam
Second scene from the third act
"Folks-shtime," Warsaw, April 1961.

Sh. E.

  • N. Buchwald -- Haman's "mapelah" baym "Teater ansambl," "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 22 February 1945.

  • Abraham Reglson -- "Hamans mapelah" -- a fraylekhe purim fantazye, dort, 28 Feb. 1945.

  • N. Chilman -- Tsu der premiere fun hamans mapelah," "Unzer shtime," Paris, 26 January 1946.

  • Jacob Mestel -- Tsvey dershinene dramatishe verk, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y., V' 4, 1948.

  • Nachman Mayzel -- Der krig un khurbn, der vidershtand un oyfshtand un di yidishe dramaturgye, dort, N' 1, 1950.

  • N. Buchwald -- An alte legende -- mit a nayem inhalt, dort, N' 3, 1953.

  • David Sfard -- "Shtudies un skitsn," Warsaw, 1955, pp. 169-175.

  • Jacob Mestel -- Piesn fun ch. sloves, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y.,  N' 8, 1956.

  • M. Litwin -- Dos hartz fun spinoza, "Parizer tsaytshrift," Paris, N' 15-16, 1956/7.

  • Ch. Sloves -- Mayn fraynt buchvald, "Zamlungen," N.Y., N' 13, 1957.

  • Ch. Sloves -- Vegn der yidisher kultur in soventfarband, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y., N' 2, 1959.

  • David Sfard -- "Baruch fun amsterdam" fun ch. sloves in yidishn milkhome teater, "Yidishe shriftn," Warsaw, April 1961.

  • Ch. Sloves -- Vegn zikh un mayn shapn, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y., N' 9, 1961.

  • A. Goldberg -- "Unzer dramaturgye," New York, (1961, pp. 499-512).

  • R. Yukelson -- "Baruch fun amsterdam" -- a groyser oyftu, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 16 May 962.

  • F.A.N. -- Tog-oys, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 17 May 1962.

  • Yerachmiel Farber -- "Baruch fun amsterdam" in varshaver teater, dort, 22 May 1962.

  • [--] -- Dr. chaim sloves kumt tsu gast keyn amerike, "Yidishe kultur," N.Y., N' 10, 1962.

  • Lili Berger -- "Esayn un shkitsn," Warsaw, 1962, pp. 182-190.

  • A teatral -- Di baneyte oyffirung "baruch fun amsterdam," "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 13 Dec. 1962.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3589.

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