Mina Bern

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Mina Bern (May 5, 1911 – January 10, 2010)[1][2] was a Polish-born American actress. She was a star of the Yiddish theater.[3]


Mina Bernholtz was born in Bielsk Podlaski. Her theatrical debut was in Bialystock under the director Yehuda Greenhoyz.[4] In 1930, through her relative Moishe Broderzon, she shortened her name and auditioned successfully to join the Ararat Yiddish cabaret theater in Łódź,[3] and then played at the Warsaw Scala and later, the Kaminska theaters and the local folk theater. With Dina Halperin and Sam Bronetski she worked in the collective Our Theater, and later with Zygmunt Turkov.[5] A few years later, she established a small cabaret theater in Białystok.

Bern fled to Russia with her daughter after the Nazi invasion of Poland; there she played with the "Bialistocker yidishn miniatur-teatr" (miniature revi-teater)[4] of Shimon Dzigan and Israel Shumacher. In 1944 she was sent to a camp in Uganda where she did children's theater for Poles stationed there. Through Jewish family connections she went to Kenya in 1945 and from there to Israel where she worked with Jenny Lavitz in the revue Rozhinkes mit mandlen, favorably reviewed and subsequently staged at the Hebrew Li-La-Lo revue theater.[5] In 1949, after an incident in which she was accused of sending a thug to beat up theater critic Haim Gamzu, who had written a bad review of her performance, she emigrated to the United States.[3] She married actor/producer Ben Bonus. She recorded songs in Hebrew.[citation needed]


Bern received an Obie Award in 1999, for her performance in Sweet Dreams (Zise khaloymes), at the Folksbiene.[6]


  • Brooklyn Babylon (2001) .... Nanna
  • Flawless (1999) .... Mrs. Spivak
  • Celebrity (1998) .... Elderly Homeowner
  • The First Seven Years (1998) (TV) .... Landlady
  • I'm Not Rappaport (1996)
  • Everything Relative (1996) .... Grandma Kessler
  • Little Odessa (1994) .... Grandma Tsilya
  • It Could Happen to You (1994) .... Muriel's Neighbour
  • Pressure Drop (1994) .... Ida Potashner
  • Avalon (1990) .... Alice Krichinsky
  • Crossing Delancey (1988) .... Would-be Victim
  • Tenement (1985) (as Mina Bern Bonas) .... Ruth

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Berger, Joseph (January 12, 2010). "Mina Bern, Versatile Yiddish Actress, Dies at 98". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  2. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (January 12, 2010). "Kvelling Over a Matriarch of the Yiddish Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Queen of mamaloshen
  4. ^ a b Ben-Avraham, Michael (September 8, 2006). "Mina Bern: Portret fun a yidisher bine-kinstlerin" (Mina Bern: Portrait of a Yiddish Stage Artist) (in Yiddish). Forverts. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Zylbercweig, Zalmen (1959). "Bern (Bernholts), Mina" (in Yiddish). Leksikon fun yidishn teater [Lexicon of Yiddish Theater]. With the assistance of Jacob Mestel. New York: Elisheva. Vol. 3, column 2296.
  6. ^ Leon, Masha (January 11, 2010). "Mina Bern, Yiddish Theater Doyenne, Dead at 98". Forward. forward.com. Retrieved March 30, 2018.

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