Joining the Union in Warsaw

Hundreds of Yiddish actors and actresses registered as members of the "Yidisher artistn fareyn in poyln", or the "Yiddish Artists Union in Poland" 
during its years of existence, beginning in late 1919 and ending at the start of the Second World War in 1939. The union building itself was situated
on Leszno 2 in central Warsaw, Poland.  The union was formed for numerous reasons, e.g. in order to find work for unemployed actors, mostly
due to the often precarious financial status of the various Yiddish theatres.  Among other functions, the union represented their members when
dealing with theatre owners and worked to improve the standards of the Yiddish theatre in Europe. The union also created a "members booklet",
a book of guidelines (rules and regulations) that each new member would buy once they were accepted as full members of the union.
In 1927, each of these booklets cost the new member two zlotys. The membership fee charged was one hundred zlotys.

As to the Fisher family of Warsaw, Herman was on the board of the union and was the second to join; wife Liza Barska-Fisher was the fourth.
Daughter Luba, at least according to the available records, went as far as becoming an "aspirant" for membership and was required to study Yiddish
and then take another test given by the union in six months after having passed her initial examination. Both Herman and Liza each filled out
"declaration" forms,  which was one of the first steps to becoming a union member. A portrait photo was attached to each application,
which was composed of  more than thirty questions. Usually, a few years later,  the successful applicant became a member, and and on their
membership card were listed the dates and places in which they performed....






Herman Fisher's membership card states his name, permanent address, when he first entered onto the stage and his family status. The family in the early 1920s lived on Leszno 6, Apt. 12, just a couple of doors down from the YAF building.

There are also spaces on his membership card where it was listed the Yiddish theatres, dates and places in which he was associated with the Yiddish theatre.  Most of his play history is very similar to that of his wife, Liza Barska-Fisher.


In his Declaration of 10 September 1922, Herman states that his pseudonym is simply "Fisher". It further states that he entered the theatre world with Kaminski in Lodz in 1896,  that he had worked in theatres in both Russia and Poland, and that he was currently working in Warsaw's Central Theatre.

Herman was approved for membership nine days after he submitted his declaration to join the union.


Liza Barska-Fisher, who was born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine, submitted her Declaration on the same day as her husband Herman.

She entered the Yiddish theatre in 1904, also with Kaminski, but in Odessa.

She also had worked in theatres in both Russia and Poland, and as was Herman, she was currently acting in the Central Theatre of  Warsaw.


Liza was number 4 on the membership list of the Yidisher artistn fareyn.

On the union membership card, space is left on one side for the union member to list his or her "shpiltitst", which is supposed to list the places and dates on which the actor has performed to date.

Liza's card states that Liza had worked in Lodz, Czestochowa, and other locations. The last year mentioned here is 1925.






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Photographs courtesy of the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research.