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March 28, 1980 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-03-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The Development of Theater in Israel
Led by Efforts of Late Hannah Rovina

By LYNNETTE
SHIFMAN

World Zionist
Press Service

Hannah Rovina, the first
lady of the Hebrew theater,
fulfilled her dream. She
contributed to the modern
renaissance of the Hebrew
language through creating
"Habima," the first Hebrew
national theater, performed
in Hebrew to an audience
that used the language in
everyday life in a Jewish
homeland, and brought joy
and pleasure to millions
watched her.
,e name of Hannah
R u-v-ina and Habima will
forever be linked. Under the
late Nahum Zemach,
Rovina and 11 other actors
struggled against the harsh
conditions of 1917 Russia to
produce short one act plays
entitled "Twilight of 'Crea-
tion." They received much
support and led to Habima's
official recognition as one of
the dramaticstudios of the
Moscow Art Theater.
At age 33, Hannah
Rovina, who was born_ on

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Yom Kippur and died on Tu
b'Shevat, made her mark in
the history of drama as
Leah in Habima's produc-
tion of Solomon Anski's
"The Dybbuk." She was not
the first choice for the role of
Leah, but because of her
knowledge of Hebrew, was
called in from the
sanatorium where she was
suffering from tuberculosis.
She received much acclaim
and compliments for her
acting in "The Dybbuk."
The Russian writer
Maxim Gorki called her
"a stage phenomenon"
and a "powerful drama-
tic actress with feeling."
After her impressive per-
formance, Hebrew
speaking Habima was
awarded the status of an
official state theater in
Russia. As for the play,
with Rovina in the lead, it
was to become an inter-
national sensation.
"I am really surprised
that I ended up an actress. I
was not very nice looking. I
was very thin, with long
legs, red hair, and freckles
all over my face," Rovina
always said about herself.
Nor did her background
indicate that she would be
the leading lady of the He-
brew theater. Miss Rovina's
father, a clerk, belonged to
the extremely Orthodox
Lubavitch Habad move-
ment, and her mother
worked as a seamstress. For
two years, she taught He-
brew at an Institute for Ref-
ugee Children on the
Polish-Russian border. As a
kindergarten teacher, she
knew hardships — freezing
cold winter, nights without
heating and much work.
For nine years, Hannah
Rovina and the members of
the Habima troupe in Mos-
cow continued to perform
"The Dybbuk" and added
other Jewish classics like
The Eternal Jew" and The
Golem" to their repertoire
until they reached a point
where a Hebrew language
theater committed to
Zionism faced insurmount-
able problems in Corn-

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—William Wolf, Cue New York

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The Jews of Cuba

By WARREN FREEDMAN

lost. However, Canadian
Only 1,200 Cuban Jews Jewish welfare organiza-
survive today in Cuba, ac- tions have been permitted
cording to Moises Baldes, to distribute matzot in Cuba
the 75-year-old leader of to help the survivors celeb-
Patronato Synagogue in rate Passover.
Havana. Only 30 years ago
Only five congregations
Cuba's Jewish community continue to operate in face
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Most of Cuban Jewry is the Cuban government.
elderly, and in five years or Havana's Hebrew schools
less, Cuban Jewry will be have been closed for years.

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Hannah Rovina, left, and Golda Meir, are pic-
tured at the celebration of 25 years of Emek Yisrael in
1946.

munist Russia.
In 1926, Habima left
Russia for a tour of
Europe and the United
States where the troupe
won much acclaim. The
members of Habima then
had their gravest crisis.
Founder Zemach wanted
to remain in the United
States and introduce the
Hebrew theater to the al-
ready established Yid-
dish stage. Rovina and
other members - of
Habima — Aharon Mes-
kin and Zvi Friedland —
insisted that the
ensemble move to Pales-
tine to fulfill the vision of
a Hebrew theater cater-
ing to Hebrew speakers.
Thus, in 1928 some mem-
bers of Habima sailed to
Palestine, touring in
Europe until 1931, before
eventually making their
home in Tel Aviv.
Rovina, who was given
the title "Queen of the The-
ater" in 1929 and referred to
with affection as "The
Lady," performed in 68 roles
to thousands of fans. In
addition to the part of Leah
in The Dybbuk," which es-
tablished her name, her
more impressive rolesin-
clude Tamar in "Keter
David," the mother in The
Sacred Flame," Portia in
"The Merchant of Venice,"
and Hava in "Tuvia the
Milkman."
The resonance of her deep
voice and the beauty of her
regal presence dominated
the Hebrew stage in a
career spanning more than
60 years.
In 1957, "The Lady" was
honored with the Israeli
Prize for her creativity and
contribution to culture and
arts in Israel. In recognition
of "her accomplishments as
the first Hebrew
tragedienne . . . of the
magisterial quality of her
performances through the
decades . . . and for playing
a leading role in the crea-
tion and building of theater

New Director

A Quartet I Films
Incorporated Release

Friday, March 28, 1980 45

NEW YORK — Eugene
DeBow has been named na-
tional director of the Ameri-
can Jewish Committee's
Community Services and
Membership Department.

The youth of a nation are
the trustees of posterity.

in renaissant Israel," she
was awarded an honorary
doctorate , in 1975 by Tel
Aviv University. In the
same year she was honored
with Israel's Woman of the
Year award.

PAUL NEWMAN • WILLIAM HOLDEN p

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