Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Morris Winchevsky
(Bentsion Novachovits)


Born on 9 August 1856 in Yanove, Kovno, Lite, into a pious, prominent family. He was raised in Kovno, wherein his parents raised him for seven years. There he learned Gemara, and at the same time also attended crown folks-shul. In 1870 he went to Vilna and prepared for the rabbinic school, and there industriously gave himself to self-study.

From childhood on he wrote songs in Russia, and he had in April 1873 debuted with an article in Hebrew "HaMagid," and a year later published songs in the local journal. As an employee in a business, in 1874 he went to Oriol, where he became acquainted with the contemporary radical-socialistic literature in Russia, and later, settling in 1877 in Kenigsberg, he became one of the nestorn of socialism for Jews. In Yiddish he debuted with socialistic articles in Radkinson's Yiddish supplement "Kol lem," to the Hebrew "HaKol."

In October 1878 he was arrested as a suspect in the "socialistic-nihilistic plot," and he was, after sitting for several months in arrest, sent away to prison, and he arrived in Denmark and was arrested there too, then he went to Paris, and at the end of 1879 visited London, where he was later the boss of the Yiddish socialistic press and literature.

In June 1884 W. in London founded and edited the first Yiddish socialistic journal "Der poylisher idel," which had from sixteen volumes zikh mshnh G-d was on "Tsukunft."

At the end of 1894 he arrived in America and here edited the weekly "Emes" in Boston, then contributed to the "Forward," later in "Di varhayt" and "Tsukunft," of which he was editor in 1908.

W. published songs, articles, dramas, fables, epigrams under his own name and under the pseudonyms: M. E. Revkin, Chone Balbetun, Yankele Trashke, Der Eynikel, Zayn Pluniste, Jim from Bethnalgal, A Meshugener Filozof, and also under his English name -- Leopold Benedict.

After the division in the Jewish Workers' Movement in America, W. went over to the communist ranks and from time to time, and he participated in their organ "Frayhayt." In May 1924 W. visited the Soviet Union, where he was received with enthusiasm. In 1925 he returned to America, and since then, due to bad health, almost entirely withdrew from public activity.

On 23 January 1895 Jacob P. Adler staged in his theatre for Gordin's benefit W.'s translation of Henryk Ibsen's "Nora," which was advertised as "Nora, or, Ns bsud ns, adapted from Gordin and Winchevsky." In 1906 the play was published in New York's Mayzel publishing house as a translation only under W.'s name. In 1909 the translation there was published in a new, improved edition.

Soon after Jacob Gordin's passing, in 1909, there was published in New York's M. Mayzel's publishing house W.'s book "A ṭog miṭ Yaʻaḳov Gordin -- durkhgelekht un beshrieben by Morris Winchevsky."

In 1910 in Max Mayzel's publishing house, New York, there was published Ibesen's "Der boymayster," and A. Goldwin's translation with W.'s introduction.

In 1911 there was published in America Gordin's "Mirele Efros" with a forward by W., in which he characterized in rhyme the types of several of Gordin's plays.

In 1922 W. participated in the writer's production of Pinski's "Der oytser (The Treasure)" in New York.

In 1920 in the "Forward Publishing House," there was published three volumes of W.'s scripts, including thereof in the third volume the following plays: "Der letster nabor, a drama in three acts," [the subject of the play earlier through the author was for "a dramatic poem in two small scenes," under the name "Fort nit gekhapt," which he published in 1885 i London's "Der poylisher idel"] with an epilogue under the name "Di mekhitse" [taken from Anatol Franz's novel. The epilogue in August 1916 was performed in New York], "Kloymersht a haseneh, a drama in four acts," "Der mizreh vind, a comedy in on act" (subject from an English sketch), "A gehargeter editorial (a scene in an redaction)," which was performed in April 1929 through the dramatic section of the cooperative colony in New York (director -- A. Peker), and "Man un vayb," performed circa 1890 in New York.

In 1927 in New York's publishing house "Frayhayt," there was published under the editing of Kalmen Marmor ten volumes from W.'s "Gezamelte verk." From his inclusion in the third volume, besides a reprinting of W.'s "Der lester nabor," the following plays: "Der mirer illoy, a comedy in three acts," which was written in September 1886 in London, "A khasene un a levaye, a fantasy in two scenes," (completed on 25 November 1921), and "Der shtn mktrg, a scene in heaven," (written in Boston in September 1895, published on 20 September 1895 in the "Emes," and in 1921 again was adapted). In the sixth volume of this edition there was reprinted the one-acter "A gehargeter editorial, and in the eighth volume [in an abridged form] "A ṭog miṭ Yaʻaḳov Gordin."

W. has in manuscript several unpublished plays, including a comedy, "Ester," which through him was given to Henrietta Schnitzer.

M.E. from H. Zuckerberg.

  • Z. Reisen -- "Lexicon of Yiddish Literature," Vol. I, pp. 977-82.

  • Kalmen Marmor -- Morris vintshevsky's "a ge'hrg'eter editoriel," "Frayhayt," N. Y., 26 April 1929.

  • Kalmen Marmor -- [artiklen vegn vintshevski], "Frayhayt," 27 November 1928; 19 February, 14 April, 5 May, 1929.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 1, page 723.

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