Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Shifra Zeitlin


No information about her origins is available, no date of birth or death, and also as well nothing on by what means she became a Yiddish actress.

One unconfirmed piece of information here from Boris Thomashefsky is that her father may have had a restaurant in San Francisco, and according to his opinion she was born in America, or, by the way, was raised here from her early childhood.

In January 1902 Z., she was the first to act in the role of "Celia" in Kessler's offering of Jacob Gordin's "Kreutzer Sonata", in 1903 she was the first  in the "Thalia Theatre" to embody the role of "Carolina" in Gordin's "Chasia the Orphan", and in the same year was the first to act in the role "Vayala" in Gordin's play "Di varhayt". In 1905 she was the first to perform in the role of "Gina" in Gordin's play "Der umbakanter".

Maurice Schwartz characterizes her as such:

"With Kessler, Kalich, Feinman, Moshkovitsh she acted as the young actress Zeitlin. I cannot think of her first name. However, I think even now of the impression she made on us. She also had been seen in various roles. She often acted in main roles when a 'star' had a cold, or was not a good match. Also I think clearly even now that she acted with heart and soul. She had acted quietly and tenderly.

She was a tall, slender woman, virtually skin and bones. She had an ideal, not-strong voice for speaking. She barely was heard in the gallery, but she had there the top of her feeling(?). She had experienced each moment of her life for her role. We suppose that in a theatre she disappears from the gallery with the plikhevate heads from the orchestra. Also Joseph Brody with his conducting stick as it vanished. We had only heard and seen and laughed with the humor and the dramatic conflicts that Miss Zeitlin had experienced.

The Yiddish-German actor Morris Morrison very strongly held and demanded from her that she should act with him in his classical plays. Who knows how flat the Yiddish stage had seen of her when the cruel death suddenly ripped her away from her life and from the stage. A young tree interrupted at the beginning of her bloom. Her death made an impression on the East Side. After her death one first meets what a great talent she possessed. Morrison complained throughout the week ... Claiming in German: "She was, after all, one well-blessed talent. In the burg (castle?) theatre, she may have died nikht in the God-ferdamter Bowery!"

The actor Elihu Tenenholz writes in an inquiry:

"She passed away very young. Her career as a Yiddish actress had only -- that it began funanderblien when we lost Zeitlin. In several roles her ideas also were good. As "Celia" in "Kreutzer Sonata", she was temperamental and seductive, such as 'Nina' in 'Der umbakanter', a role antithetical to Zeitlin; a kind of cherry garden fanienkele (girl?), she acted with the grace that comes with talent".

M. E. from Boris Thomashefsky.

Sh. E. from Elihu Tenenholtz

  • Maurice Schwartz -- Moris shvarts dertsehlt, "Forward", N. Y., 9 April 1941.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 4, page 3165.

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