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                                                               YIDDISH THEATRE 101 > THE YIDDISH PLAYS > THE PLAY IN HISTORY  >  ONE LIVE FOR ANOTHER


"One Life For Another"
("A lebn far a lebn")

by Peretz Hirschbein

1920-1921 season

A Drama in Three Acts

Directed by Mark Arnstein

Place: A Ukrainian Village.

Time: One Day After Passover

Act One: Ysroel's Home.

Act Two: Midsummer, Outside the house.

Act Three: Some months later. Ysroel's Home.


  Ysroel Noah   Joseph Schoengold
  Pearl, his wife   Henrietta Schnitzer
  Bassa Faiga, his mother   Anna Appel
  Bluma, his niece   Rose Silbert
  Tevyeh, his partner   Jechiel Goldsmith
  The Rabbi   Rudolph Schildkraut
  Lazar, a help   Anatol Winogradoff
  Osher, a grain merchant   Hyman Meisel
  Gershon, a grain merchant   Max Skulnik
  Esther, a neighbor   Liza Varon
  A Passing Wedding Party    
  The Groom   Lazar Freed
  The Grandmother   Bina Abramowitz
  A Farmer   Louis Weisberg
  A Relative   Jacob Katzman
  Another Relative   Sam Pecker
  A Woman   Annie Shapiro
  Another Woman   Clara Langsner
  Third Woman   Liza Goldberg
  A Girl   Helen Blay
  Another Girl   Deborah Gordon
EXECUTIVE STAFF of the Jewish Art Theatre Corporation

Samuel Shore, General Manager           Louis Schnitzer, President            Morr Jacobs, Publicity Director

Fred Kasten, Treasurer           Gladys Cooperman, Assistant Treasurer            Isidore Elgard, Stage Manager
S. Pecker, Assistant Stage Mgr.            David Gold, Master Electrician               Julius Levy, Master Carpenter
Sam Wolensky, Master of Properties            Settings designed and executed by J. Foshko



ACT ONE. Ysroel Noah, a man in his early thirties, steeped in orthodoxy, is suffering the torments of a childless life for seven years. His paternal yearning, steeped in a deep spiritual desire for race continuation, has caused him to pledge his life and his possessions in the hope that God will send him a son. In anticipation of prospective fatherhood he dedicates a new synagogue in the city and at the laying of the cornerstone he donates a sum of gold equal in weight to the stone. His honesty, his straightforwardness and devout orthodoxy have won for him the esteem of his neighbors and unlimited credit among the farmers and merchants. He returns from the dedicatory ceremonies with the Rabbi to be encouraged by the merchants in his hope and sacrifice by their readiness to help him financially should he ever need their aid. Tevyeh, his partner, suspects that Ysroel has been drawing on his share of the business funds and comes in to demand an accounting. An examination of the records shows that Ysroel has unknowingly drawn on Tevyeh's share of the money. The thought that dishonesty, unintended though it was, may taint his charities in the people's eyes and brand his pledge as an empty sham, has crushed him. Tevyeh is offered a mortgage on Ysroel's home as collateral against the overdrawn money, but he refuses it and insists on a Rabbinical decision. The Rabbi's request to overlook the unintended use of his money, goes unheeded by Tevyeh who is determined to expose Ysroel among the townspeople.

ACT TWO. Midsummer. The discrepancy in the funds has preyed on Ysroel's heart. And the constant thought that through an inadvertent occurrence something base might mar the spirituality which he feels has already enveloped the child about to be born, has worn away his health. Though his business has been neglected the grain merchants continue to have faith in his honesty and are ready to extend him credit. With his failing health he hesitates to incur new obligations and goes to consult his wife.

A party of guests, traveling several miles on their way to a wedding in a neighboring village, stop at the household to repair their fatigue. In the group are the groom, some relatives-to-be, old women, girls and a very old woman, so old she can barely walk, who journeys to see her last grandchild married off. The merriment of the party and the spirit of life that fills each individual is a sharp contrast to the vanishing hope and flickering light in Ysroel's heart. After the evening prayer he is invited to join them, but he declines. One or two offer explanations, pieced together from heresy, and the others in the group begin to nod their heads with understanding. He retires to the house and faints. He is revived and the guests take their departure. Pearl, left alone, feels that she is on the threshold of motherhood.

ACT THREE. Some months later. Ysroel's health fails from day to day. The child that his wife bore him seems to draw its life from him. An atmosphere of ill portent seems to hang over the house. Ysroel's entrance startles Bluma from a vision. Their conversation rouses Pearl from a dream that the synagogue her husband built is in smoldering ruins. Bassa Faiga, frightened by her had dream, runs to charm her grandchild from possible harm. Tevyeh comes in to beg Ysroel's forgiveness for his hasty accusations and with the aid of Osher and Gershen pleads for reconciliation. Ysroel forgives him but refuses to enter into any further business arrangements because of his ill-health. Another visitor who comes in from the rain is the Rabbi whom Lazar has brought to visit the ailing man. With the realization of the new life for which he consecrated his own vindication of his good name is the only vitalizing force that still gives him a hold on life and Ysroel makes one more feeble effort to continue his business and announces his decision. But with the achievement of that vindication he expires in the Rabbi's arms.


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