Visit                  Exhibitions                    Collections                  Research                  Learning                  About                  Site Map                  Contact Us                  Support

                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  THE GOLEM


at the
Civic Repertory Theatre

"The Golem"

A Dramatic Legend

in Four Acts and Seven Scenes

by H. Leivick

Directed by Egon Bleicher

Incidental music by Joseph Achron            Settings Designed by Foshko


(in order of appearance)


Tadeus, the Inquisitor Leonid Snegoff
A Monk Wolfe Barzell
Maharal, the Rabbi Lazar Freed
The Sexton Jacob Mestel
The Golem Alexander Granach
Deborah, the Rabbi's grand-daughter Julia Adler
Tanchum, a madman Tenen Holtz
The Sick Beggar Judah Bleich
The Red Beggar Michael Rosenberg
The Blind Beggar Itzhak Rotblum
The Tall Beggar Hershel Zohn
The Short Beggar Morris Feder
The Hunchback Hanoch Meyer
The Old Beggar (Elijah) Max Rosenthal
The Young Beggar (Messiah) Joseph Greenberg
The Man with the Cross Jacob Temny

as Wanderers, Fugitives, Boys, Citizens of Prague, Choir of the Dead and Dancers:

Irving Belchinsky, Isadore Gluckman, Nathaniel Hersh, Philip Wolf, Harold Miller,
Jacob Sandler, Manny Feller, Martin Punch, W. Peshes, J. Schuchman, Shirley Albert,
Bertha Barzell, Eda Garber, Feigele Goldberg, Bella Gisser, Bertha Guttentag, Esther Greenberg,
Molly Horowitz, Sylvia Lohman, Bella Nadolsky, Sophie Ryewitch, Ida Soyer, Dvo Sarron,
Helen Zelinsky, Mara Tartar, Miriam Tenenholtz, Liza Varon, Rose Warsaw.

The action takes place in Prague in the seventeenth century.

Act 1 -- Scene 1 -- The Monk's Cell.
                                                   Scene 2 -- A Clay Pit near the edge of the city.
                                    Scene 3 -- The Synagogue Courtyard.
                                    Scene 4 -- The Synagogue Courtyard.

Act 2 -- The Ruins of the Fifth Tower.

Act 3 -- An underground passage.

Act 4 -- The ante-chamber of the Synagogue.


THE PLAY -- Leivick's great imaginative play, "The Golem," originally written in Yiddish, was translated into Hebrew and played for several years as a distinguished feature of the repertory of the Habima players of Moscow. It was also produced by the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 1928, managed by Luis Wood, Stevens and David Itkin.

In spite of the barriers of language, the play was an overwhelming success everywhere. Recently an authorized English translation was made by Mr. J.C. Augenlicht, which is now being prepared in opera form for the Chicago Civic Opera Co. with music by Von Grath.

For the Yiddish Ensemble Art Theatre production, the author, Mr. H. Leivick, has prepared a final and definitive stage version. This is not only the first showing of the play by H. Leivick in Yiddish, but the author's last word in regard to its stage form.

Permanent company of the Yiddish Ensemble Art Theatre:

Bina Abramowitz, Julia Adler, Anna Appel, Wolfe Barzell, Judah Bleich, Lazar Freed, Alexander Granach, Joseph Greenberg, Bertha Gutentag, Tenen Holtz, Jacob Mestel, Bella Nadolsky, Michael Rosenberg, Max Rosenthal, Isaac Rothblum, Joseph Schwartzberg, Helen Zelinsky, Leonid Snegoff and Liza Varon.



"THE GOLEM" is based on a famous legend of the Prague ghetto. It tells how the great Rabbi Loewe (The Maharal) who is himself a real historic personage, created a giant to defend the Jews by first modeling a figure in clay and then animating it into life by prayers and incantations. In this its final form, the play is a rich imaginative work, strange and fascinating in plot, deeply symbolic, a profound expression of the Jewish mind.

THE STORY -- The scene is laid in Prague and depicts first the situations of the Jews suffering under the persecutions of the Inquisition. The Maharal decides that a strong arm is necessary to the saving of his people. They are threatened by false accusations -- the blood-ritual canard that has reappeared so often in eastern Europe during the last three centuries. He moulds the figure of a Golem and calls upon the soul to animate it. The soul resists incarnation. In a scene of superb power, the Maharal, urged by the pitiful sight of the banished fugitives, insists, and the gigantic figure comes to life, simple as a child, but fearing within him the destructive sees of his unwilling spirit.

The Rabbi brings the Golem home, and discovers him fascinated by the beauty of his grand-daughter, Deborah. He is set to hewing wood and drawing water, and from time to time is sent on missions to save the people, punishing the inquisitors who drive the Jews from their last refuge in the Fifth Tower, and searching out and recovering the treacherously planted evidence of the blood-ritual accusation. Warmed by Deborah's presence and chilled by her fear, the Golem's spirit undergoes a strange transformation. The final scenes, in which the Golem, fallen into a destructive phase, sheds Jewish bloodf and is forced by the Maharal's will back into the clay from which he had been evoked, are not to be surpassed in modern drama. A profound symbol of the evils inherent in force unguided by the spirit is embedded in the play, a symbol further illuminated by the action of the Maharal in his tragic rejection of the young Messiah, the spiritual leader who arrives before his time.


 He is set to hewing wood and df

Copyright Museum of the Yiddish Theatre.  All rights reserved.