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                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  THE GALICIAN REBBETZIN


"The Galician Rebbetzin"

Gabel and Wohl's Yiddish Operetta
(Prepared by Max Karper)

Performed at Gabel's Public Theatre, NY, NY

Introductory Note


The plot of the operetta concerns the escapade of a feminine Rabbi in Cracow, Austria, inhabited by a community of God-fearing Jews who are ruled by their Rabbi, whose traditional leadersh8ip, like that of a Kingdom, is handed down from generation to generation. In the event that there is no male heir to assume his leadership at his death, his daughter or his widow becomes the "Rebbetzin" (feminine for Rabbi) from which we get the title of the present play.


Amour, the God of Love, is seen wandering in search for her true love. He sings "Hearts and Souls," when he is suddenly interrupted by the God of Destruction, with whom he has a verbal conflict. Amour maintains  that love is stronger than gold, while Destruction claims that gold is above everything. And to prove their theory, a tiny Galician town of strictly orthodox jews is chosen as the example.


And so the story opens in Cracow, Austria, at the Hotel De Budapest run by Reb Farishel, its owner, a devout believer in the Galician Rebbetzin. His daughter, Feigele (Jennie Goldstein), the town's most popular girl, is in love with Zeligel, an artist who resides at her father's hotel, not knowing that he is the only son of the Belzer (a nearby town) Rebbetzin, and that he ran away from home, rather than take over the reign of his late father in that town. During the feast of Harvest, Feigele is crowned Queen. But the celebration is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Zeligel's mother, the Belzer Rebbetzin, accompanied by Reb Borech, the Dean of Belz, who is anxious to have his older daughter, Gitele, marry the rightful heir to the court of the late Belzer Rabbi and through that union further his own power in that town. Feigele then learn Zeligel's real identity, and comes to the conclusion that while Zeligel is the son of a Rabbi, only one of that blood will be allowed to marry him. Reb Borech tears the lovers apart, takes Zeligel back to Belz to become Rabbi and marry his own daughter.


We are now in the home of Zeligel in Belz at the close of the Sabbath during the traditional Hebrew ceremony of the blessing of the Moon. The Dean is rushing preparations for Zeligel's wedding with Gitele. In the meantime, Feigele, realizing that the only way she can save her Zeligel from a loveless marriage and win him for herself, was to be a Rebbetzin. She then disguised herself as the famous Galician Rebbetzin and sends a courier in the person of Simchele, and old scholar, who had given her the idea, to dispatch the news that the Galician Rebbetzin will honor the wedding of Zeligel and Gitele with her presence. At the arrival to the court of the late Belzer Rabbi, Feigele is accepted as the genuine Galician Rebbetzin and honored with great respect. Feigele, howeer, had taken with her Gitele's love, who poses as one of her many followers. Knowing that the religious power of the Galician Rebbetzin was law over all Galicia, Feigele rules that according to "God's will" she, the Galician Rebbetzin, was chosen as the wife of Zeligel, while her follower must marry Gitele. After the double ceremony, Feigele reveals her real identity.


  1. "Hearts and Souls" (Pincus Lavenda and Ensemble)
  2. "Soldier March" (Harry Thomashefsky and Ensemble)
  3. "Jewish Whoopie" (Marty Baratz and Ensemble)
  4. "Sammy You Are My Torah (Marty Baratz and Goldie Eisman)
  5. "Beautiful Eyes" (Samuel Rosenstein and Zena Goldberg)
  6. "Feigele" (Jennie Goldstein and Ensemble)
  7. "Song of Songs" (Jennie Goldstein and Sam Gertler)
  8. "Carnival" (The Entire Cast and Ensemble)
  9. "Blessing of the Moon" (Pincus Lavenda and Ensemble)
  10. "God of Abraham" (Zena Goldberg and Ensemble)
  11. "If the Rabbi May" (Abe Sincoff and Sally Schorr)
  12. "The Procession Song" (The Marching Ensemble)
  13. "Chi Di Bi Bi Bum" (Jennie Goldstein and Ensemble)
  14. "When Will I Be a Bride" (Jennie Goldstein)


  Benjamin, Shepsel's brother  

Boris Rosenthal

Miriam, his wife   Sally Schorr
Arnold, their son, a painter   Sam Gertler
Tzippe, a widow   Marry Wilensky
Harry, Tzipe's son, an actor   Marty Baratz
Robert, her fiancé   Solomon Krause
Mr. Reichwald, their father   Mr. Lobel
Mrs. Reichwald, their mother   Mrs. Schwartz
Gladys, Arnold's adopted daughter   Goldie Lubritsky
Lazar, Arnold's friend, a newly arrived painter   Harry Thomashefsky

Guests, Cantor, Choirboys, etc.


First and Second Act -- In New York

Third and Fourth Act -- In Chicago

Time: Between the first and third act a span of fifteen years.


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