Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Shimen Treibush

Born on 14 January 1898 in Pinsk, White Russia, to not well-to-do parents. His father was a butcher, who orphaned him for three-and-a-half years. He was raised by his mother (killed by the Nazis together with a son). He learned in a cheder, Talmud Torah, and in Dronzik's gymnasium [high school]. He sang with a cantor, and when Genfer's troupe came to the city, he performed with them in a children's role in "Pintele yid."

At the age of fifteen he traveled by himself to America to his mother's sister. Here in New York he joined the "United Dram. Circle" under the supervision of Chaim Zinger, where he played for several year and also performed independently with declamations.

To make a living he learned to be a house painter, attending at the same time a public school and began to read energetically the world dramas in Russia, and in Yiddish, became a member in the "Kunst ring." The drama school and trained en masse with the "Yiddish Art Theatre," and through Maurice Schwartz was selected for the offering of the "Kunst ring." Later T. began to play across the province and also received episodic roles in New York's "Yiddish Art Theatre." So he represented the actor Mark Schweid during his illness in his role of "Shemash (sexton)" in Asch's "Der toyter mentsh (The Dead Man)" and "Elye" in Leivick's "Shmates (Rags)."

In 1924 T. played in Montreal in the "Monument Nationale" Theatre with the Hollander troupe, Skulnik, Goldschmidt in the


repertoire of New York's "Art Theatre," where he played Goldschmidt's New York roles. In 1925-26  he visited Soviet Russia and studied for eight months under hte direction of Granovski in the drama school of "Mi"mt." He returned and he participated  with Ben-Ami in the offering of Leivick's "Shop" in the role of "Leybl."

T. settled in 1930 in Los Angeles, where he dealt with commerce, and he participated in the "Biltmore" Theatre as "Jacob," with the Germans in Kalmanowitz's play, "Azoy iz dos meydl (Such is Life)." In 1933 T. joined a local Yiddish "repertory theatre" and participated in the offerings of the "Dorfs-yung" by Leon Kobrin (role of "Zalman"), "Shop" by Leivick ("Leybl"), "Oyfn opgrunt (The Lower Depths)" by Maxim Gorky (role of "Aliosha"), "Der revizor (The Inspector General) by Gogol (role of "Shimel elye"), and "Der man mitn portfel (The Man With the Portfolio)" by Faieko (role of "Lichomski").

About his playing the role, the poet H. Rosenblatt writes:

"Strongly convincing is Shimen Treibush in the role of Likhomski. He brought out such a type with his entire prophesy, you literally pull the breath out, it becomes torn under the wheels of the train."

The poetess Rosa Nevadyomska writes:

"Strongly has Treibush acted as Likhomski. In his brief but modest role, he develops such a convincing personality, he creates so many psychological nuances, A true discovery of a soul condition [it mentions a Dostoyevsky type], that it became a shame to me when Granatov made a speech about his words. Treibush didn't just give up, but he created a character that stands for us long after the production."

Joseph Sucher writes:

"Treibush earned the warm applause for the hunchbacked Jew in "Golddiggers," and for many other roles, but the greatest compliment for Treibush was by George Stepanovich Likhomski in "Man With a Portfolio." The writers Likhomski perhaps and others, however Treibush's Likhomski is unique and convincing to a very high degree."

T. also played there in the role of "Lamterntsinder" in Dostoyevsky's "Der idiot (The Idiot)," and about his acting in the play, Rosa Nevadyomska writes:

"That in a few moments in a silent scene you can create scenes that you will never forget, our Treibush has shown in the scene of the lamp lighter. ...From the monotonous little soldier song he has created a type of man who thinks constantly of secrets, of his own ideas, of important ideas, which we must reckon as his time comes to an end. It is the type of Dostoyevsky -- as Treibush has us convinced in two minutes -- keeping the class that today now is coming to power in the Soviet Union. It is the same This is the same damned, stunned man who has appeared in "twelve" expressions through song.

The lamp lighter, symbolic, in the evenings, in darkness, in the cold. He puts lights on, rises and lights, and cleans out the caged stove and makes sure it burns and does not extinguish, reads together with the leader, takes him on the far road, begins the same song again and clarifies his statements.

Treibush has, with each movement, told about great thoughts. The theatre auditorium looked and felt it. Teibush has earned the hearty applause."

In the 1931-2 season, he played in "Yidteg," under the direction of Benjamin Zemach, the title role of Leivick's "Hirsh Leckert."

In 1936 he played (as "Bob Goldstein") with Vera Gordon in Yeshaya Alkan's play, "Khaloymes (Dreams)," and the role of R' Reuben in the English offering of Mendele's "Di takse." In 1938 after returning from a visit to Europe, including Soviet Russia, participated together with Dr. Baratov in Gordin's "Der fremder (The Stranger)." In 1939 he participated in the "W.P.A." Theatre project  and played in Yidish and in English the role of "Yudke" in Pinski's "Der oytser (The Treasure),"  in English in "Von Toyrt of a Nation" and "Having a Wonderful Death," "Excursion," "and in Yiddish, Clifford Odets' "Wake Up and Sing," "The Day is Dark," "Yankl Boyle," and "Di shvartse late."

On 12 February 1939, under the direction of E. Tenenholtz, he played the role of "Grandfather"  in Alkan's play, "Doctor Ratevet."

In 1943 he played again with Dr. Baratov in Berkowitz's "Moshke the Swine" (role of "Jacob"). In 1951, with the "Yiddish Folksbiene" in "The City of Tomorrow" (stage direction -- R. Wendorff) by John R. Priestly (role of "Joe Dinmor"), in 1955 in English, in the play, "The Sky Moved" by Benjamin Forel, under the direction of Benjamin Zemach (role of "Ankl nik").

T. also participated in a program of "100 Years of Yiddish Literature," and often performed with readings and recitations.

In June 1931 T. published songs in a Journal, "Chicago," and in 1937 in the Los Angeles "Folkstsaytung."


  • H. Rosenblatt -- Der man mitn portfel, "Kalifornyer Yidishe shtime," Los Angeles, 6 December 1934.

  • Rosa Gevadomska -- "Idiot" in repertaur teater, "Kalifornyer yidishe shtime," Los Angeles, 3 January 1935.

  • Yosef Sucher -- Zechtsn vochn yidish repertaur teater, "Souvenir Journal," Los Angeles, 20 January 1935.

  • Chaver-Paver -- Di amolike yunginke tsvishn yidishe aktyor, "Morgn frayhayt," N.Y., 16 June 1961.






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 4982.

Copyright Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved.