Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Gitel Stein


Gitel was born in New York, America. Her father was a native of Istanbul (Turkey), was a captain on an English ship, studied to become an engineer in Palestine, Egypt and England, and finally settled in America, where he found employment as a machine engineer.

She studied through high school. Due to bad economic conditions, she had to interrupt her study of law, and due to the need for more income and possessing a beautiful voice, she joined the chorus of the "Second Avenue" Theatre. Afterwards she connected with the actor Moshe Silberkasten, and she was taken by him to Philadelphia, where she early on began to play in small, and soon thereafter larger roles. Together with her husband she traveled to Warsaw, where she played with the "Yiddish Art Theatre" in small roles, studied reading and writing in Yiddish, and began to act in the operettas with Menasha Skulnik, Molly Picon, and then in Philadelphia.

About her acting in "David and Ester," A. Auerbach writes:

"Gitel Stein plays the perpetual half-idiot, and even though she stumbles very often, one sees that for a young actress, she must occupy a privileged place on the Yiddish stage."

Playing for a year across the Yiddish radio the title role of L. Freiman's radio drama, "Di shvartse mame," she later performed on weekends in New York, and across the province in the title role in the stage form of "Di shvartse mame."

About S.'s playing the tile role of "Di shvartse mame," there are some opposite opinions by the critics. When B.Y. Goldstein made adjustments about two plays with the same theme: the Yiddish of L. Freiman, and the English of Miss Dorothy Heyward's cooperation with Dubozay, he writes about S.'s acting:

"Miss Stein tore the floor up of the National Theatre under herself with her shyness and weeping... With Stein we are able to compliment her on her makeup, for her commitment, and for her primitive goodness, which shines out of her curiosity."

Dr. Jacob Kirshenbaum writes:

"..In the melodrama the young actress Gitel Stein is in the main role of 'Mamie,' the black mother. She played this role faithfully, as one of the best actresses. She doesn't weep, doesn't put on airs, doesn't look to overact, and it is possible to condemn the measured and not overused stage direction of the director and main role player of theatre, Julius Nathanson."

Then she continued to play across the province with various troupes, until she went over, under her maiden name, to Miami, where together with her husband, Leon Schechter, she played for fifteen years with a Yiddish-English vaudeville theatre, in which she participated in Yiddish sketches.

S. also participated in the film, "Catskill Honeymoon."


  • A.A. (Auerbach) -- "David and Ester in National Theatre," "Morning Journal," 28 Oct. 1938.

  • J. Kirshenbaum -- "Di shvartse mame," "Morning Journal," N.Y., 25 January 1939.

  • B.Y Goldstein -- Tsvey teater-tragedies mit tsvey shvartse mames, "Der tog," N.Y., 5 February 1939.






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 6, page 5764.

Copyright   Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.