Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Hersh Yedvab

Born in 1870 in Lodz, Poland. For a profession he was a textile worker (shearer). In his younger years he began to participate in "amateur" productions and especially later became popular as a monologist of Sholem Aleichem works et al.

1908-10 -- Participated in the productions of the "Harfe" society and later of the "dramatic arts," manifesting an ability in comical character roles, and at the same time he excelled as "Yekl Shapshovitsh" in Sholem Asch's "God of Vengeance."

 1912 -- he was director of a dramatic circle in Pabianice, and he participated in the Hebrew productions of the Lodz "Habima HaHevrit," acting in Hebrew in the role of "Wasserstein" in Dr. Hertzl's "The New Ghetto" in Poland, and also in Vienna during the tsyunystishn congress.

1913 -- entered into the ranks of the professional actor in the Skala Theatre (directors: Adler and Serotsky), and here had the opportunity to develop his acting abilities. One of his best roles was "John Kooks" (sp) in "Kean," by Al. Dumas.

In wartime, he specialized in political monologues (written by Avi Cohen, Y., M. Neyman and Z. Zylbercweig), which he used to personify in the living and thereby had an enormous success. Then he became a partner in the small arts stage with Solomon Kustin and Pesach Burstein, with whom he went on a tour across Poland, Volin and Galicia. Later by himself he acted in several large cities of Western Europe, such as Berlin, Leipzig, et al.


Y. also had participated in Lodz's German theatre (director: Walter Wasserman) in the play "Yetkhen Gebert," acting in the role of "Zayde" in a Yiddish-German dialect.

In his last years, Y. had made various, unsuccessful attempts at acting in the province, however he had no longer remained as a member of the official Yiddish troupes in Poland. On 31 October 1931, Y. passed away in Lodz.

In the necrology of the "Lodz Tagenblat," it was said about Y.: "he has influenced by his naturalness, his simplicity, his popularity. There was a time when Yedvab was the darling of the Yiddish theatre world in Lodz."

Reuben Marsalov wrote about him: "Who hasn't responded to his sweet, fluttering humor, with equivalency? ...but early on he hears us (the old Yiddish actor) to exist, even before he gets tired of his mission [?], he is considered by his own friends for public service. The environment around him became cold, not friendly, that when the Yedvabs wanted them, would they have to worry about it, which each had suffered in their martyrdom ways, on the ne-und-veg of a Yiddish actor."

Zalmen Zylbercweig characterizes him this way: "For me Yedvab was more than a stage actor. Not that it was his specialty. He was, by nature, a clown, a mocker, a joker, a scoundrel, a modern badkhan, or in general a human being, who saw the world through comic glasses. This was Modke Khabad, Hershele Ostropoler, the entire mountain with comic stories, clowning, crazy incidents they tell about. ...the same character carries out these things, which they recall about Hershl Yedvab. ...Yedvab, by nature, was an entertainer. He had always been screaming that he didn't use it, that he was not it was not right, that indeed he did not correct. It is true that with his mouth he did not say it out loud, but with his wandering eyes these were said, step by step, in no sense Yankl Shapovich was so sure [?].  ..Yedvab, who was a knaper Jew in Hebrew, had so surely felt in his Hebrew role as "Wasserstein" in Dr. Herzl's "the New Ghetto," that he had always brought to resurrect. He suddenly lived in the role of this broker, again unlucky, not a safe person. Then came the time when Yedvab joined the professional Yiddish theatre and was not found. There he had argued -- due to conflicts -- with bad actors, not ....there appeared to be opposition on the upper floor. He remained in the ensemble. At first the political monologue, which he had brought forth in the time of the German-Austrian Occupation, indeed against the Occupation, they drew him out of the ranks, and Yedvab for several years was a known thing in the Yiddish theatre world in Western Europe."

  • Necrology in "Lodzer tagenblat," 1 November 1931.

  • Amelia Adler -- Dos leben fun a yidisher akterise, "Di idishe velt," Cleveland, 7 November 1930.

  • Reuben Marsalov -- Nito mer hershel yedvab?, "Lodzer tagenblat," 1 November 1931.

  • Zalmen Zylbercweig -- "Der lodzer hershele ostropoler, "New Folksblat," Lodz, 23, 25 November 1932, "Di prese," Buenos Aires, 23 December 1932.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 950.

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