Thursday 30 May 2019


NOKHUM (NEKHEMYE) RAKOV (February 20, 1866-December 29, 1927)
            He was a playwright, born in Ashmene (Ashmyany), Vilna district.  He graduated from a local Russian school and later spent a year at a technical school in Kremenchug.  For political reasons, he left Russia and lived for a short time in Germany and Copenhagen.  Beginning in 1887 he lived for fifteen years in London and from there made his way to the United States.  He wrote over sixty plays, melodramas, and operettas.  The most popular among them were: Helo nyu-york (Hello New York), A bisele glik (A bit of happiness), Fun got fargesn (Forgotten by God), and especially Kantshe in amerike (Little Hannah in America) and Der batlen (The idler) which was better known as Der yeshive-bokher (The yeshiva lad).  These and a few others were performed on Yiddish stages throughout the world.  Only a few of his plays were published: Der batlen, oder hokhtsayt fer shpass (The idler, or high time for a joke) (Przemyśl: Amkroyt et fraynd, 1909), 63 pp, second printing (1923); Kantshe in amerike (Warsaw: Teater-biblyotek, 1914), 57 pp.; Di neshome fun mayn folk (di neshome fun yisroel) (The soul of my people, the soul of Israel) (Warsaw: M. Goldfarb, 1926), 40 pp.  “In his melodramas and operettas,” wrote Zalmen Reyzen, “Rakov stands above the average Yiddish playwright, and many of his theatrical works can be considered as a transition from the literary trash of Lateiner to the repertoire of Gordin.”  He died in Mount Vernon.

Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 4; Zalmen Zilbertsvayg, Leksikon fun yidishn teater (Handbook of the Yiddish theater), vol. 4 (New York, 1963), with an almost complete bibliography; Sholem Perlmuter, Idishe dramaturgn un teater kompozitors (Yiddish playwrights and composers) (New York, 1952); Perlmuter archive, YIVO (New York.
Berl Cohen

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