Wednesday 25 May 2016


YANKEV VAYSLITS (JACOB WAISLITZ) (December 31, 1891-August 24, 1966)
            He was born in Bialystok, Russian Poland, into a well-off family.  His mother was the sister of Soviet Foreign Minister Maksim Litvinov.  In his childhood years, he moved with his parents to Konsk, Poland, graduated from a Russian high school as well as a Polish drama school there.  In 1913 he moved to Warsaw, joined a dramatic circle with Hazemir (The nightingale), and later became a student of Dovid Herman.  Over the years 1919-1935, he was an artist with the Vilna Troupe, and with it he traveled to many countries.  He became known for his artistic interpretations of the best work in the Yiddish and European literature.  He directed dozens of plays on an assortment of Yiddish theatrical stages in Europe, the United States, Canada, and South Africa.  From 1942 he was living in Australia where, aside from a wide variety of artistic activities, he was also a teacher of Yiddish literature and Jewish history, as well as director of the Sholem-Aleichem School in Melbourne.  He published an immense number of articles on theater and literary issues in: Literarishe bleter (Literary leaves), Folkstsaytung (People’s newspaper), Vokhnshrift far literatur (Weekly writings for literature), Foroys (Onward), and Teater tsaytung (Theater newspaper)—in Warsaw; Tog (Day) in Vilna; Nayer folksblat (New people’s newspaper) in Lodz; Frimorgn (Morning) in Riga; Tshernovitser bleter (Czernowitz pages) in Czernowitz; Inzl (Island) in Bucharest; Belgishe bleter (Belgian pages) in Brussels; Der veker (The alarm) in Paris; and in Yiddish publications in South Africa, Canada, and Australia.  He died in Melbourne.

Sources: Z. Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 1’ Who’s Who in World Jewry (New York, 1955), p. 794.

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