Home  >  Actors Abroad




The Greeting is, Unfortunately, Not So Cheery.

January 18, 1935


To tell the truth, we expected to find Samuel Goldinburg pale, emaciated and weakened. The greetings were to be very unhappy: Goldinburg is seriously ill, Goldinburg is in a hospital, Goldinburg traveled home in the middle of his tour.

But we encountered this famous Yiddish actor, rather than a cheery, energetic [person], at least, on the surface, no evil eye, not a healthy one. The same flashy eyes, the same facial movements, the same old times, a youthful figure. Moreover, he was in a particularly upbeat mood. He is narrowly returning from Dr. Held after a long investigation. Moreover, he was in a particularly upbeat mood. He is just returning from Dr. Held after a long examination, and the doctor has said to Goldinburg that,

I'm healthy; I just need not to play for a few more weeks, then I'll be fully prepared for my work."

He still regrets that he didn't end the tour in Poland. There he almost did not play. His family, however, forced him to return.

"You understand," he said with his characteristic smile, "Women, as soon as they become frightened, they shout, 'Come home!' "

Here, however, a pleasant surprise awaited him. His daughter Lili met him happily and immediately after he took her first kiss, blooming grudgingly, he turned her with his left hand. On her finger was a diamond "engagement" ring.

"What is this?" he asked her.

"An engagement ring," the daughter answered him, with the same created seriousness that he had answered her.

"My father thought it was tefillin." Goldinburg tried to play the role of a strict father. "Where did you get such a ring?"

"Here he is." The daughter produced a young man, and presented him, as Samuel Goldinburg was met at the ship.

Goldinburg speaks with great love about the Yiddish theatre world. On the other side of the sea, there is talk of working days and worries about economic life of the Jews. In Poland and in Lita [Lithuania], in the two countries where he was, the Jewish economy has completely collapsed, destroyed.

In Lita the last several months here began an anti-Semitic wave, recalls the star. An economic boycott was organized against the Jews, and it grows and it spreads. About Poland it is agreed. There the Jew was expelled from every profession. As far as government positions are concerned, virtually no one can be found in any government office. And the interest rates, especially on Jewish businesses and enterprises, are virtually unbearable.

"In general the Jewish condition in Europe is a bitter one," says Goldinburg. "I mean that there is no future for Jews. I don't know how it is in England or France, but in the countries that I had visited, the conditions were hopeless."

And yet, despite the bitter need of the Jews, he went into the Yiddish theatre and supported it with his last ounce of energy.

"How do you explain that?" -- the co-worker of the "Forward" asked.

"I have two explanations," said Goldinburg. "There are at least two reasons for this. Firstly, the theatre is a place where the Jew can forget what is troubles are. Recreation refreshes him, but it does not satisfy him with enough vitality, with his struggle for his existence. Secondly, the Jew goes in a Yiddish theatre because when he goes, he expresses his protest against his oppressors and persecutors. In Poland, the Jew does not -- I mean the great Jewish youth -- in the Polish theatre does not really have that reason. The Polish world closed all the gates against the Jewish youth. The protest is being instigated with the performances of "Yiddish theatre."

There are Yiddish theatre-goers, Yiddish theatres, Yiddish actors. There are no Yiddish theatres, Goldinburg means, however, there are none there. The local Yiddish theatre is almost entirely a vaudeville theatre. And this is because the Jews want to laugh in the theatre because of their troubles. They look to forget and be amused for the several hours that they spend with the performers. Goldinburg says that only the writers and a small part of the Jewish intelligentsia want serious plays there. The masses there want light amusement. The pair of Hymie Jacobson with Miriam Kressyn had an extraordinary success with their operettas. They gave the audience a hundred percent of amusements. Also Michal Michalesko was a hit with his first operetta.

"True," Goldinburg hurried and added, "The Polish theatre is no different from the Yiddish in this respect. And economically it is worse off than the Yiddish."

With great warmth Goldinburg speaks about the Yiddish theatre audience in Kovno and in the Lithuanian province. Such heartiness, such love, and understanding for theatre is rarely found, according to him. Before him Hymie Jacobson and Miriam Kressyn played there, and they had a great success. And when Goldinburg came, they had with him his serious things that were taken up with the same breadth and with a warmth that showed the prosperity years in America. This was last March, before the persecution of the Jews became so sharp.

The Jews feel so strongly attached to the theatre that even when he returned to play in the town of Panevezys, he received letters from the other towns protesting because he had only come to them once.

"What a youth, what boys and girls, what a precious youth there is!", says Goldinburg, and his eyes lit up from the many memories of his playing there.

Goldinburg will give over to the "Forward" a mass of interesting episodes and impressions of his recent visit to the other side of the sea.




Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre.  All rights reserved.