The Witch of Botoșani

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The Witch of Botoşani or simply The Witch or The Sorceress (original Yiddish title Di Kishefmakhern) was an 1878, or possibly 1877, play by Abraham Goldfaden. Like most of Goldfaden's major works, it included music.

The play was based on popular superstition; Goldfaden would later remark, "I wrote Di kishefmakhern (The Witch) in Romania, where the populace – Jews as much as Romanians – believe strongly in witches." [Bercovici, 1998] The title role, a female character, was written to be played by a man; it was first played by Israel Grodner. The play survived into a far different era of Yiddish theater: Maurice Schwartz played it at New York City's Yiddish Art Theater in 1925. [Adler, 1999, 107 (commentary)]

Jacob Adler made his 1878 stage debut in the role of the lover Marcus, in a production in Kherson, Ukraine, in which Israel Rosenberg played the title role. [Adler, 1999, 107]


  • Adler, Jacob, A Life on the Stage: A Memoir, translated and with commentary by Lulla Rosenfeld, Knopf, New York, 1999, ISBN 0-679-41351-0.
  • Bercovici, Israil, in O sută de ani de teatru evreiesc în România ("One hundred years of Yiddish/Jewish theater in Romania"), 2nd Romanian-language edition, revised and augmented by Constantin Măciucă. Editura Integral (an imprint of Editurile Universala), Bucharest (1998). ISBN 973-98272-2-5.
  • Partial list of plays by Goldfaden dates the play from 1887, but gives no citation. Bercovici cites a particular performance from 1878 in his comprehensive list of major Yiddish theater premieres in Romania.