ESTER-ROKHL KAMINSKI (ESTHER-RACHEL KAMIŃSKA) (February 15, 1870-December 27, 1925)
Celebrated as “the mother of the Yiddish theater,” she was born in Porozove (Porazava), Grodno Province (Belarus). At age twenty-two, she debuted on the stage as Mirele in Avrom Goldfaden’s Di kishefmakherin (The sorceress). She first performed in operettas and melodramas. From 1905 she began acting in a more elevated repertoire, principally Y. Gordin’s plays, and created unforgettable figures for the Yiddish stage, such as Mirele Efros. In 1909 she received a telegram from Sholem-Aleichem, saying that he was preparing a special play for her, but this remained only a promise. After her death, there was published her Briv fun ester-rokhl kaminski (Letters from Ester-Rokhl Kaminski) (Vilna: B. Kletskin, 1927), 158 pp. Her memoir, entitled Derner un blumen, der veg fun mayn lebn (Thorns and flowers, the path of my life) was published in Warsaw’s Moment (Moment) (June 11, 1926-January 21, 1927). She died in Warsaw.
Sources: Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 6 (Mexico City, 1969); Zilbertsvag’s biography of her in his Leksikon appeared under the title Di velt fun ester-rokhl kaminska (The world of Ester-Rokhl Kaminska) (Mexico City, 1969), 309 pp.; Literarishe bleter (Warsaw) 137 (1926); Y. Rumshinski, Klangen fun mayn lebn (Sounds of my life) (New York, 1944), pp. 110-15; Yidishe kultur (New York) 9 (1946); Y. Turkov-Grudberg, Di mame ester-rokhl (Mother Ester-Rokhl) (Warsaw, 1953); Mikhl Vaykhert, Zikhroynes (Memoirs), vol. 2 (Tel Aviv, 1961), see index; Di goldene keyt (Tel Aviv) (69-70 (1970); Sovetish heymland (Moscow) 4 (1976), pp. 179-80.