was born in Minsk, Russia. He acted for Yiddish companies
in such major cities as Odessa (where he helped Peretz
Hirsbein form his acting troupe in which Ben-Ami performed
and directed) and Vilna (where he directed the "Yiddish
Theatre-Lovers Circle," which was thought of as the
forerunner of the Vilna Troupe), as well as London,
England before deciding to immigrate. He came to the
United States in 1912 with the Sarah Adler troupe.
acted in New York City in the Neighborhood Playhouse in
New York City. In 1918, he was engaged by star
Yiddish actor Maurice Schwartz to act with his troupe at
the Irving Place Theatre. After a time, dissatisfied with
Schwartz's methods, he formed his own Jewish Art Theatre.
According to Lifson's "The Yiddish Theatre in America,
"The actor and director Jacob Ben-Ami with his dedication
to art in the Yiddish Art Theatre which Ludwig Lewisohn
called: 'the noblest theatrical enterprise existing among
us." Ben Ami was one of the important torchbearers of art
in the Yiddish theatre, and his "Jewish Art Theatre...
[provided] delight and [did] deeply instruct all to whom
the state is the home of an intenser, a clearer, and
heightened vision of life."