MESTEL, JACOB (1884–1958), Yiddish poet, actor, journalist, playwright, and theater director. Born in Zlochev, Galicia, his first lyrics appeared in the Lemberg (Lvov) Togblat and were collected in the booklet Ferkholemte Shoen ("Dream Hours," 1909). He gained his first professional theatrical experience in Vienna (1910–14), and after serving as an officer during World War I, he directed the Freie Juedische Folksbuehne (1918–20). Immigrating to the United States in 1920, he joined Maurice *Schwartz's Yiddish Art Theater in 1923, and then directed his own group Artef, where he experimented with bold theatrical innovations. From 1926 he and Jacob *Ben-Ami produced Yiddish plays in New York and on tours which included South America. Author of Literatur un Teater ("Literature and Theater," 1962), he co-edited the leftist monthly Yidishe Kultur and the first three volumes of Zalman Zylbercweig's Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater. From 1950 to 1958 he was editor of the IKUF publishing house.
Rejzen, Leksikon, 2 (1929), 458–61; LNYL, 6 (1965), 78–81; Z. Zylbercweig, Leksikon fun Yidishn Teater, 2 (1934), 1369–74; M. Neugroeschel, in: Fun Noenten Over (1955), 298–305; D.S. Lifson, Yiddish Theater in America (1965), 116–25, 436–51. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sh. Rozhansky, Dos Yidishe Gedrukte Vort in Argentine (1941), 201–20; Z. Weinper, Shrayber un Kinstler (1958), 222–31.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.