The best-known song of Reuben Doctor remains the comical Ikh bin a “boarder” bay mayn vayb (I’m a Boarder at My Wife’s), yet even in that song it is difficult to know the extent of his role in creating the music. Doctor was otherwise chiefly known as a lyricist for many Yiddish theatrical and popular songs during the heyday of Yiddish musical theater, vaudeville, radio, and commercial recording.
He was born in Yedintsy, Bessarabia (now Moldova), and at fourteen he went to live with an uncle in England. There he sang in synagogue choirs and on the Yiddish stage of London’s East End. He came to America in 1908, where he played with various vaudeville troupes and began composing popular Yiddish lyrics. More than eighty of them were published, of which he recorded more than fifty.