MARIA LERNER (MIRIAM RABINOVITSH) (1860-1927)
She was born in Berdichev, Ukraine, graduated from a girls’ school in Kishinev, married young to Yoysef-Yude Lerner, settled with her husband in Odessa, and had a difficult life with him. In the 1880s she stood close to the Ḥibat Tsiyon (Love of Zion) movement and began writing. She composed a story (“Aheym” [Homeward]) for the Ḥoveve-tsiyon (Lovers of Zion) anthology Der veker (The alarm) (Odessa, 1887), as well as other fictional pieces in the supplement to Yudishes folksblat (Jewish people’s newspaper) (St. Petersburg, 1888). He also wrote the play for the theater Di agune (The deserted wife), published earlier in the second volume of M. Spektor’s Hoyzfraynd (House friend), pp. 27-78, and later in a separate edition (Warsaw: Yudishe bihne, 1908), 78 pp. In the theater museum at YIVO in Vilna, there were manuscripts of several other plays of hers: “Di khupe un di levaye” (The wedding canopy and the funeral), “a comedy in four acts and seven scenes” (censored in St. Petersburg, April 5, 1881); “Der laydende” (The sufferer), “a drama in four acts and seven scenes” (censored, May 10, 1883); “Der shtrafnoy” (The penalty), “a drama in four acts and seven scenes, following the plot of A. Rabonovitsh, adapted” (censored, July 12, 1883); “Der shmaltsgrub” (Strike it rich), “a comedy in five acts” (censored, April 11, 1883). After her husband’s conversion to Christianity, she too converted and at the same time converted her children. She lived thereafter in Germany, Canada, and the United States where she remained until 1923. On the way back to Russia, she was in Germany where she died in 1927.
Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 2 (New York, 1934), with a bibliography; R. Granovski, “Y. Y. Liyetski,” in Pinkes fun amopteyl fun yivo (Records of the American division of YIVO) (New York, 1927-1928).