Eukaryotic viruses assemble compartments required for genome replication, but no such organelles are known to be essential for prokaryotic viruses. Bacteriophages of the family Chimalliviridae sequester their genomes within a phagegenerated organelle, the phage nucleus, which is enclosed by a lattice of viral protein ChmA. Using the dRfxCas13d-based knockdown system CRISPRi-ART, we show that ChmA is essential for the E. coli phage Goslar life cycle. Without ChmA, infections are arrested at an early stage in which the injected phage genome is enclosed in a membrane-bound vesicle capable of gene expression but not DNA replication. Not only do we demonstrate that the phage nucleus is essential for genome replication, but we also show that the Chimalliviridae early phage infection (EPI) vesicle is a transcriptionally active, phage-generated organelle.