Avrom Goldfaden

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Goldfaden, Avrom


Born July 13 (25). 1840, in Starokonstantinov, in present-day Khmel’nitskii Oblast; died Jan. 9, 1908, in New York. Jewish playwright and poet; “father of the Jewish theater.”

Goldfaden was the son of a craftsman. He began writing in Hebrew, but he soon changed to Yiddish, the spoken language. In 1866 and 1869 he published the collections of poems Jew and Jewess, which are imbued with sympathy for his unfortunate people. He organized a Jewish theater troupe, which played in Odessa and other cities in 1876. Of the many plays Goldfaden wrote, the outstanding ones are The Witch, Two Simpletons, A Grandmother and Granddaughter, Shmendrik, The Recruits, Shulamit, and Bar Kochba. Ridiculing the obsolete aspects of patriarchal Jewish life, Goldfaden struggled for the democratic enlightenment of the masses. He filled his plays and performances with sung folklore. Goldfaden found the models for his popular jokers and punsters among the laboring people. He went abroad after the tsarist government banned the Jewish theater in 1883.


Geklibene dramatishe verk. Kiev. 1940.


Dobrushin, I. “Goldfadens dramaturgie.” In his book Di dramatur-gie fun di klasiker. Moscow, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
If you hold by the Great Man theory of history, modern Yiddish theater begins with Avrom Goldfaden, the poet, playwright, and theater entrepreneur who took Yiddish dramatics out of the intimate, domestic field of the Purim-shpil and made it (as Yiddish students are taught in the Goldfaden chapter of College Yiddish) a commercially viable enterprise in the late 19th century.
Following acknowledgments (vii), an introduction (1-72), and a translators' note (73-80), this volume contains new translations of the following plays: Aaron Halle Wolfssohn, Silliness and Sanctimony (81-112); Shloyme Ettinger, Sekele, or, In Mourning for a Brother (113-200); Avrom Goldfaden, The Two Kuni-Lemls (201-47), with appendix: "Music to The Two Kuni-Lemls" (247-56); Peretz Hirschbein, Miriam (257-90); and Alter Kacyzne, The Duke (291-356).
As a modern, secular institution, Yiddish theater had its beginnings in Romania, where Avrom Goldfaden produced his first plays in 1876.