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



("So It Has Been")


(Azoy iz geven)

A comedy in three acts and nine scenes.

By L. Resnick

Arteff Theatre
(The Only Jewish Workers Art Theatre in America)

Season 1934-1935.

Directed by Benno Schneider            Settings designed by M. S0lotaroff

Music by Ben Yoman             Dances by Lily Mailman




Nachmen (a tailor)

S. Levin

Gavriel "Shed" (a drunkard)

M. Friedman

Chaim Plut (a city gossiper)

L. Freilich

Reb-Motele Chernobiler (chief rabbi)

S. Nagoshiner

Tsalia (Rabbi Motele's trustee)

A. Cohen

Rochele (Tsalie's daughter, a divorcee)

L. Eisenberg -
B. Lelchuk

Shloime Psayoches (community leader)

O. Schreiber

Broche, his wife, a (deaf mute)

Ch. Spiner

Hersh Lieb, their son (the village fool)

J. Levenstein

Pinches der Roiter (a Lessee, a Chasid)

S. Anisfeld

Frumele (Pinches's daughter)

G. Russler

Velvl Gulevate (a freeholder)

H. Bender

Isroel Ukrainer (a lumber merchant, a young Chasid)

M. Eisenberg

Aaron Kluger (the rich of the city, the "enlightened")

S. Eisikoff

Perele (his wife)

F. Biro

Lifshe (an old maid, an innkeeper)

L. Rymer

Econom (manager in Count Nibilitzky's Court)

M. Schneiderman

Young Peasant

M. Goldstein

Old Peasant

D. Holtz

Vasil (a deserter of the army)

A. Horwitz

Agofonovitch (a drunkard, a fortune teller)

M. Kirsch

First Invalid

S. Kulman

Soldiers of the State:


Second Invalid

N. Gwirtzman

Leizer Krivoshei (a master tailor)

I. Velichansky

First Tailor Apprentice

H. Rosen

Second Tailor Apprentice

J. Shrogin


A. Hirshbein


A. Shapiro

Bahelfer (a teacher's helper)

Ch. Brisman

Chantze (a matchmaker)

Ch. Fraimen

Boy (an orphan)

Ch. Kramer


A. Eisen

Nachman's Mother (a blind)

T. Todrina

A Lackey (at Aaron Kluger's)

M. Kirsch

First Dayon

T. Wendi

Associate Justices:


Second Dayon

N. Gwirtzman

First Haidamack (a "cossack")

M. Pitkiowitz

Second Haidamack (a "cossack") D. Farber

A Drummer

J. Gostinsky



In he year 1827 Czar Nicholas the 1st passed the Ukase impressing Jews into military service. Recruits were rent from home and family and sent to the most remote parts of Russia for a period of service lasting twenty-five years. Besides this, required quota children were caught and spirited away to far-off districts and reared as soldiers. Under pressure of their superiors , these "Cantonists" were often converted to Christianity and never returned to their homes.

So it was that the town of Nibivala was visited with this Ukase:

The entire Community -- proprietors and workers -- is smitten with consternation. The first impulse is to run to the Rabbi Motele and demand that he abolish this Ukase. Rabbi Motele, a charlatan catering to the wishes of the Community Elders, goes into a trance and finally rejects the Ukase. When, however, soldiers come to have the Ukase ratified, the town is again appalled. To make matters worse, a group of workers or "Batchers" (Patritches) as the call themselves, led by the tailor Nachmen, protest against the unjust levying of taxes that exempt such rich as the lessee Reb Pinchus and Reb Aaron, the town's richest member and friend of County Nobilitzky. The Batchers wish to resign from the Community which seeks only to exploit them. Workers will form a Community for themselves:  -- levy their own taxes and send their own recruits. The indignant elders have but one hope now;  -- the resourcefulness of "Reb Aaron the Wise."

Reb Aaron, a shrewd, enlightened Jews, expounds the magnanimity of the Czar's Ukase: "There will no longer be discrimination against the Jews." "Jews will now answer the noble calling of a soldier, who protects the realm, the property and lives of all. It is therefore essential that the choice of recruits be a careful and precise one!" However, despite Reb Aaron's convincing discourse, it occurs to the Elders that this punishment was meted out to them because Rochel, a young widow, has committed the sin of adultery. Again they rush to Reb Motele for help.

To purge the town of its sin, Reb Motele condemns Rochel, and the rumor spreads that the dreadful Ukase has now been withdrawn. Nachman and his Brothers expose this as a mere maneuver of the Elders, so that mothers will no longer hide their children. The intervention of the Botchers who censure the Community's right to judge, saves Rochel. The Elders realize that it would be well to be rid of this upstart Nachman. They therefore sanction Reb Aaron's plan of enticing Nachman to his home under pretext of meeting Frumale, whom he loves. There, believing that he is signing a marriage contract, he signs as volunteer in the army instead. Only when soldiers arrive to take him does Nachman realize that he has been tricked and denounces them all.


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