Menu JTA Search

1,000 Muscovites Attend Memorial for Mikhoels

A memorial service in Moscow for the famed Yiddish actor Solomon Mikhoels drew at least 1,000 people Tuesday night, as celebrations surrounding the inauguration of the new Jewish Cultural Center in Moscow, named in Mikhoels’ honor, continued this week.

Mikhoels, a star of the pre-war, Soviet government-sponsored Yiddish State Theater, was murdered in 1948 at the direct orders of Stalin.

Guests of honor in the audience Tuesday night were his daughter, Natalya, and his granddaughter, Viktoria, who were invited by the Soviet authorities to attend the service. The two had immigrated to Israel in 1973.

According to Israeli correspondents reporting from Moscow, the memorial included a film clip of Mikhoels and his Yiddish troupe performing a musical based an a Sholom Aleichem story.

It brought cheers and tears from the many Jews present, they said.

There was also a brief clip of Mikhoels in one of his most famous roles, King Lear. British theater critic Gordon Craig described it at the time as one of the “greatest performances ever given of Lear, of which the British stage would have been proud.”

Mikhoels’ daughter said that at the time of her father’s death 41 years ago, she was told he had been killed in a hit-and-run accident in Minsk.

The actor had been chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee.

The memorial was sponsored by the Jewish Cultural Association, an independent group of artists, and the Shalom Theater, an offshoot of the old Yiddish State Theater.

The Shalom Theater is linked to the Soviet Anti-Zionist Committee, whose chairman, Gen. David Dragunsky, attended the memorial.

NEXT STORY