PINKHES TOMASHEVSKI (1842-January 21, 1914)
He was born in Talne, Ukraine, the son of the Talner Cantor. He was a Talmud pupil with a beautiful singing voice and the ability to play violin. Around 1870 he moved to Zlatopol where he was employed in Brodski’s sugar factory. He later had a vinegar brewery in Kiev. He acquired a love for Yiddish theater and Yiddish literature, and when Yiddish theater was still in its infancy, he wrote a comedy entitled Yankl yungatsh (Yankl, the little brat), staged many years later in Philadelphia. In 1881 he made his with his family to the United States, and he went with his son Boris to work in a cigarette factory where he organized a group that in July 1882 gave the first Yiddish theatrical performance in New York. Together with his son Boris, he later founded his own theatrical troupe with which he produced a play of his own: Di shpanishe inkvizitsye (The Spanish inquisition) (“Emek haarazim” [Valley of the cedars], written with Tantshuk). In subsequent years he compiled for the Yiddish stage a series of plays—Rotshilds byografye (Rothschild’s biography), Khane mit zibn zin (Hannah and her seven sons), Kapitan dreyfus (Captain Dreyfus), and Yetsies mitsyaim (The exodus from Egypt)—and translations, among them Theodor Herzl’s Dos naye geto (The new ghetto [original: Neue Ghetto]). He published in Goldfaden’s Nyu yorker ilustrirte tsaytung (New York illustrated newspaper) a novel entitled “Di hashgokhe oder der bekher gift” (Supervision or the goblet of poison). He died in Fallsburg, New York, and was buried in New York City.
Source: Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), cols. 848-49.