Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Moshe Zilberman

Born in Romania, and as a youth was, together wit the future actors Mogulesko, Tsukerman and Dinman, a choir boy for Cantor Kuper in Bucharest. When Goldfaden arrived in Bucharest, Z. entered into the troupe, where he acted as "Leon" in "Di shtume kale", and he soon became popular as an actor. However, when Z. displayed the ability to create, Grodner took him over to his troupe, which he had founded in Iasi. Later (1877) Z. went over to Mogulesko's troupe, then again back to Goldfaden in Odessa, where he had a great success as an actor. In 1881 Z. performed as "Eliezer" in Lerner's adaptation of Skrib's "Zhidovka" ("Di yidn").

Trudging along with various troupes until the an on playing Yiddish in Romania, Z. organized a troupe (Z. and his wife, Heine-Chaimowitz and wife, Borodkin and wife, et al.) for America. On the way they were put themselves up in London for a short time, where a troupe of Max Karp, Joseph Wachtel and Joseph Lateiner as author and prompter were staying, and everyone together went to America at the end of 1883.

As the director of the first professional Yiddish troupe in America, Z. for several years acted in an important role in Yiddish theatre world. However, he with time was jostled around in very position, and in 1896 traveled to South Africa, where he in Johannesburg (together with Mandeltart and wife) became directors of the Yiddish troupe in the local circus building and had at the same time competed against two Yiddish theatres (Royal, directors Katzman and Wallerstein). However, when both troupes did bad business, they united after a short time, and went over to the Royal Theatre. After a season the united troupe went across the province and turned back to Johannesburg.

Arriving back in America, Z. no longer showed a desire to take to is profession of the Yiddish theatre He prayed during the High Holidays at home (emud), opened a beer hall in the Windsor Theatre, and then for a certain time was a door shteyer in Thomashefsky's theatre.

Z. passed away in New York.

M. E.

  • B. Gorin -- "History of Yiddish Theatre", Vol. I, pp. 182, 183, 185, 192, 211, 242; Vol. II, pp. 30, 45, 197.

  • David Kessler -- Mir shpielen iz neshonal teater, "Der tog", N. Y., 11 March 1917.

  • H. Hersh -- Idish teater in drum-afrike, "Drum-afrike", 5, 1928.

  • Sholem Perlmutter -- Der onfang fun yidishen teater, "Di idishe velt", Cleveland, 4 June 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 782.

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