Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Yankev Libert


L. was born in 1874 in Warsaw, Poland, to poor parents --small dealers. He learned only for three years in cheders and already as a child of ten he was given to a Yiddish printer. At the same time he was a choir boy with a cantor, and (1885) he participated in "[Knabn]-chorus" in Goldfaden's troupe in Warsaw.

L. became very captured by the theatre and copied a home the actors. Goldfaden observed that and got him to act in roles adapted for older adults, and L. went on to be employed with this profession, and he spent his entire time in and about the stage. In 1887 during the ban on Yiddish theatre, he entered into work in a Polish printing shop, for which the owner was an actor from the Polish government theatre, and L. learned Polish through him and also theatre technique.

At the age of seventeen he became acquainted with Esther-Rukhl Halpern [later Kaminska], and together  with friends founded in Warsaw a Yiddish dramatic circle, which had triggered him to a greater disturbance with the Russian police.

In 1892, thanks to the efforts of the Russian theatre director Olginska -- there came the permit to act in Warsaw in "Yiddish-German", together with the Russian troupe, but the troupe no longer existed, and in 1893, when it was forbidden to act, even in "Yiddish-German", L. became engaged to Avraham Fishzon, with whose troupe he traveled with for eleven years across the cities and towns of greater Russia, transferring contamination and troubles


of the Russian might and hunger due to the frequent minor visits to certain cities and [flotations=ekspluatatsye] by the entrepreneurs.

 In 1905 he came to Warsaw and together with Esther-Rukhl Kaminska [shared=opgeteylt] the drama for the operetta,  and he acted with her for a certain time together in Warsaw in the drama, and then he went on a tour across the larger cities of Russia. Later L. was one of the important forces of the "United Troupe", where he acted in the main roles in the Gordin-Libin-Kobrin repertoires, and he also distinguished himself in the "ranks" in Ibsen's "Nora" and "Schwartz" in Zudermann's "Heymat".

In 1911 he toured with the dramatic troupe across the Volga, Siberia and other parts of eastern Russia. In 192 he staged (together with Peretz Sandler and H. Epelberg), in the Elizeum Theatre in Warsaw, where there was staged for the first time  a European operetta in the Yiddish epoch.

In 1917 during the October Revolution he traveled across the Ukraine and with help founded the Yiddish State Theatre in Kiev. In 1920 he acted with a collective in Kavkaz.

In 1930 he entered into the Baveglecher State Theatre.

L. received from the government [council=ratn] the title of "'fardinstfuler' artist", and every year he was [premirt] with a sum of gold, as well as with two months [tsurloyb].

Sh. E.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Yakov libert, "Der shtrahl", Warsaw, N' 3, 1910.

  • Noah Prilutski -- "Yidish teater", Bialystok, 1921, pp. 7-11.

  • Dr. A. Mukdoni -- Zkhrunut fun a yidishn teater-kritiker, "Archive", Vilna, 1930, pp. 362-368.






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Adapted from the original Yiddish text found within the  "Lexicon of the Yiddish Theatre" by Zalmen Zylbercweig, Volume 2, page 1040.

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