Rokhl Holzer earned a reputation as an actress with a talent for transforming herself to suit any role, but her most remarkable transformation may have been her shift from Poland to Australia’s Yiddish theater. Holzer began her stage career at age six in Di Emese Kraft (The True Power). She graduated from the Krakow Polish Drama School in 1925 and quickly became a leading actor in the Polish National Theater while working with numerous Yiddish theater troupes throughout Poland. She starred in the first Yiddish “talkie” produced in Poland, Al Het (I Have Sinned) in 1936, which was a runaway hit. In 1938 she went on a world tour, performing in France, Switzerland, and Australia, but when news arrived of Germany’s invasion of Poland, Holzer cancelled the rest of her tour and settled in Melbourne, where she worked with local Yiddish theater troupes. In 1939 she made her directorial debut with Froy Advokat (Madame Lawyer), in which she also played the lead role. She became the lead actress and director for the Dovid Herman Teater, seeking out modern works with strong female roles. The highlight of her career was a 1966 spoken word performance of Babi Yar, a piece about the Holocaust, which left the audience stunned. For her final performance in 1977, director Shia Tigel gender-swapped the lead role of Di Hiltserne Shisl (The Wooden Bowl) with her in mind.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Rokhl Holzer." (Viewed on September 17, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/holzer-rokhl>.