Playwright and Writer

Peretz Hirshbein

Playwright and author Peretz Hirshbein was born November 7, 1880 in in a rural village near Kleszczele, where his father, Lippe, operated a mill.

He studied in yeshivas of Grodno and Vilna and began writing poetry and fiction, and eventually, plays. He moved to Warsaw, then to Odessa in 1908, where he wrote some of the most famous modern Yiddish dramas.

He settled in the US around 1912 and spent the next decades traveling the world and writing literary prose, plays, and travel memoirs.

Hirshbein lived in New York until 1940, then moved to L.A., with his wife the poet Esther Shumiatcher and son Omus Hirshbein. He became ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease and he died on August 16, 1948.

Listen to Peretz Hirshbein’s song “אַ מלאך וויינט (An Angel Weeps),” set to music by his brother-in-law Lazar Weiner and made famous in the stage and film productions of his גרינע פעלדער (Green Fields).

One of Hirshbein’s most famous plays, גרינע פעלדער (Green Fields), was adapted into Edward G. Ulmer and Jeremy Ben-Ami’s 1937 Yiddish film of the same name. Although it takes place in the Líte of Peretz’s youth, the film was shot entirely in New Jersey.