Sunday 10 February 2019


VOLF KAMRASH (b. 1822)
            He was born in Berdichev.  In 1847 he entered the Zhitomir rabbinical seminary, from which he graduated in 1856.  He worked as a teacher in crown Jewish schools, among others in Belatserkov (Bila Tserkva) in 1864 and later in Letitshev (Letychiv).  On November 5, 1954, he and a group of school friends staged a play in Yiddish at the Berdichev theater.  Kamrash was the play’s author, and its title was Kool in shtetl (Jewish community in town)—according to another version, it was called Di almone (The widow); yet another story has it as Dos kool-shtibl (The community synagogue) or R’ mendele polnimots (R. Mendele Polnimots).  The play is lost.  People who saw the production reported that the play depicted life in the town and strongly attacked the powerholders in the Jewish community.  The censor allowed no more performances of the play.  This was the first effort at Yiddish theater in Russia.  Further details about Kamlash remain unknown, nor is it known when and where he died.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 3; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963); Nokhum Shtif, in Teater-bukh (Theater book) (Kiev, 1927), pp. 21-38; Y. Shatski, in Yivo-bleter (Vilna) 1.1 (1931); Mendele un zayn tsayt (Mendele and his times) (Moscow, 1940), pp. 239-42; M. Viner, Tsu der geshikhte fun der yidisher literatur in 19th yorhundert (On the history of Yiddish literature in the nineteenth century) (Kiev, 1940).
Berl Cohen

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