Finnish playwright and cabaret artist. His life is a research specialism of Dr Simo Muir.
|Birth||1883 / Helsinki|
Jac Weinstein played a central role in the Jewish cultural life in Helsinki, especially in Yiddish theatre. He was born in 1883 and attended besides traditional Jewish schools, a local Swedish speaking gymnasium. He studied law at the Alexander University in Helsinki and in 1906 he was one of the founders of the Jewish Literary Club which had a drama group. His first plays in Yiddish are from this period. When the First World War broke out he fled to Copenhagen and Stockholm and returned to Finland only when Finland became independent in 1917 and Jews received civil rights. The time in Stockholm, with a lively theatre and cabaret scene, had a great influence on him.
In 1922 Weinstein established the Jewish Drama Society (Yidishe dramatishe gezelshaft), which performed besides classics of the Yiddish theatre, a lot of plays written by him. These were mainly comedies and musical plays. Weinstein wrote also sketches and couplet songs that satirized local Jewish life, especially the ups and downs of Jewish clothing merchants (he was himself a partner in a clothing business). These sketches and songs were performed as part of kleynkunst (cabaret) soirees or as full-length revue performances especially for New Year.
During the Second World War Weinstein wrote also poems, songs and sketches in Yiddish and Swedish that depicted atrocities being carried against Jews in Nazi occupied countries. In 1948 he wrote a choral tableau called Mother Rachel and her children, about the 2000-year-long suffering of the Jewish people, culminating into the Holocaust. This as his other plays, discovered in 2005 by Simo Muir, are rare examples of Yiddish theatre in Finland and give a unique insight into the life of the Finnish Jewish community.