Jerome Robbins at 100
Jerome Robbins, 1918 - 2018
Jerome Robbins, born Jerome Wilson Robinowitz, is born on October 11, 1918 at the Jewish Hospital in New York City to Herschel and Lena Rabinowitz. His father is an émigré from Rozhanka, Russia (now Belarus) and a baker. His mother is American-born and a college graduate from the Midwest. Her parents were Russian émigrés from Minsk.
The Rabinowitz family sells the family delicatessen and moves to Weehawken, NJ. Herschel, known as Harry, opens the Comfort Corset Company. The Weehawken ferry is the family’s lifeline to New York City where Jerry and his older sister Sonia take music lessons at Miss Effa Ellis Perfield’s Studio. Lena introduces her children to the cornucopia of cultural abounding in New York City.
At age six, Robbins performs his own music compositions in public. The local newspaper refers to him as “little Jerry.” Lena takes Jerry and Sonia to visit their paternal grandparents in Russia.
In September, Robbins enters first grade at Hamilton School in Weehawken, New Jersey.
At age 13 Robbins has his bar mitzvah and graduates from Hamilton School. The family business is struggling badly now as the depression deeps and Lena has to go to work as the company’s Running Boss. foreman Summers are now spent with the extended family at Camp Kittatinny, an Uncle’s enterprise in the Poconos, where Jerry gets involved in all the camp shows.
Robbins enters Woodrow Wilson High School where he is a member of the Drama Club. School plays, movies, and frequent trips to New York theater continue to nurture him. Through Sonia’s connections with the Gluck-Sandor Dance Center Jerry finds himself on stage in NYC in “El Amor Brujo.”
Robbins enters New York University; but does not find the coursework agreeable to his deepening vision of a creative life in the theater.