Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Israeli Arts, Culture & Literature: Habimah

Habimah (“The Stage”) was originally founded in Moscow in 1917 as a theater company. The company performed their plays in Hebrew, the first professional group ever to do so. Led by Nahum Zemach, the company aspired to portray the problems of the Jewish people. Habimah had a few problems of its own; many members of the Communist Party opposed the existence of Habimah. Stalin, however, allowed the group to continue to operate.

In 1926, the company went abroad on tour. The following year, in the United States, Habimah split. Zemach and several additional actors remained in the U.S., while others decided to settle in Palestine. Tel Aviv was to become the new home for Habimah. In 1945, Habimah moved into the building in which it now resides, in the heart of Tel Aviv. Thirteen years later, it became the National Theater of Israel.

Habimah was not alone in theatrics in the yishuv. Other companies came onto the scene to challenge Habimah's status. One of these, the Cameri ("Chamber") Theater, was founded by Yosef Milo in 1944. His approach was vastly different from that of Habimah. Milo preferred a more Western-style company, separating it from the East European pattern of Habimah. Many years later, the Cameri became the official Municipal Theater of Tel Aviv.

The program seen here was for the play, The Mother, the story of a woman who must cope with the violent deaths of her husband and sons. The Hebrew was written by Avigdor Hameiri, whose talent as a Hebrew poet, novelist, and translator was well-known. Born in Hungary, Hameiri served in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. He was taken prisoner by the Russians and was later set free. Hameiri's stories reflect his experiences; many tell the stories of Jews fighting in other people's wars, and the Jews role as scapegoat. Hameiri received many prestigious awards for his work.

Sources: The Jewish Agency for Israel and The World Zionist Organization