Boris Aronson was born in the Ukrainian city of Kiev in 1900. As the son of the Grand Rabbi of Kiev, he enjoyed educational and cultural opportunities denied to most of the Jews of his time. He showed artistic talent early in childhood and took to calling himself “The Outlaw” because he was always looking for ways to escape from his large, traditional family.
By the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, he had found a mentor in Alexandra Exter, a Paris-trained artist who was one of the principal designers at the Moscow State Yiddish Theater (also known as the Kamerny Theatre). In 1922, he left Russia, moving first to Berlin and then on to New York, where he quickly established himself as a designer in the bustling Yiddish theater world. Of particular note are the sets he designed for multiple Yiddish Art Theater productions directed by Maurice Schwartz, including adaptations of STEMPENIU, THE FIDDLER in 1928 and ROAMING STARS in 1930 (both of which were based on stories by Sholem Aleichem).