"This is the other Yiddish culture, the lower one, the one that the intelligentsia is still trying to pretend never existed. It did exist; it had a lot of vitality; and it drew crowds in New York, Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, and Johannesburg, as well as little towns scattered on every continent."—Nahma Sandrow, author of Vagabond Stars: A History of the Yiddish Theater
"A cheerful account of his roles and hits, his show-business relationships and his trademark fancy whistling."—Forward
Pesach Bursrein, an old trouper from the Yiddish theater, recalls dramas both onstage and off in this memoir, which he dictated to his wife, Lillian Lux Burstein. The Story of Burstein’s successful stage career is played out against the background of political turmoil in Europe, vignettes of life in small towns and big cities, friendships and rivalries among theater folk, family life, emigration to the United States, and tours through Europe, South America, Israel, and South Africa. Every personal anecdote tells the larger history: theater history and also the history of the Yiddish communities who were his audiences.
While Burstein is a legend in Yiddish cheater, he was little known outside that world until he was celebrated in Arnon Goldfinger’s acclaimed documentary Der Komedia11t. This memoir provides the first window for English readers into the other side of Yiddish culture—the Yiddish burlesque, the traveling Yiddish theater, and the music hall. It will not only delight readers but also reveal a social and cultural history never before described in such detail. Burstein’s life is the story of popular Yiddish theater in the first half of the century.
Pesach'ke Burstein ( 1896-1986) was born in Warsaw. Raised in Berdiansk, Russia, he ran away from home at fifteen to join a traveling Yiddish Theatrical troupe, never again to see his parents, who were subsequently killed in a pogrom. By 1924 Burstein had made such a name for himself that Bores Tomashefsky, a legendary pioneer in Yiddish theater in America, brought him to New York City, where his career began to flourish.
Lillian Lux Burstein has remained active in film and television. She visited several cities with a screening tour for the highly acclaimed documentary of the Bursteins' life, Der Komediam, which has received several awards including the Israeli Oscar for Best Documentary in 1999.
6 x 9, 324 pages