It is an around 100 years old antique SIGNED HEAVY PLASTER cast BUST - STATUE of the Yiddish- Jewish - RUSSIAN WRITER - SHOLEM ALEICHEM. Shalom Rabinovitz - 18591916 , one of the founding fathers of modern YIDDISH LITERATURE.A supreme Jewish humorist, Who tapped into the energies of the East European, spoken-Yiddish idiom and invented modern Jewish archetypes, myths, and fables of unequaled imaginative potency and universal appeal. The BUST was created very likely in the 1920's. The BUST was casted in PAINTED PLASTER. A copper plaque at the front of the bust indicates in Yiddish : "SHOLEM ALEICHEM of SCULPTOR EISENBERG" - A sculptore who I wasn't able to track. Dimensions around 8.0" (Height) x 3.5" x 5.5 (width). Pls watch the scan for a reliable AS IS. Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, better known under his pen name Sholem Aleichem (Yiddish and Hebrew: , also spelled in Soviet Yiddish, [lm aljxm]; Russian and Ukrainian: -) March 2 O. February 18 1859 May 13, 1916, was a leading Yiddish author and playwright.  The 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof, based on his stories about Tevye the Dairyman, was the first commercially successful English-language stage production about Jewish life in Eastern Europe. The Hebrew phrase (shalom aleichem) literally means [May] peace [be] upon you! , and is a greeting in traditional Hebrew and Yiddish.  Contents 1 Biography 2 Literary career 3 Critical reception 4 Beliefs and activism 5 Death 6 Commemoration and legacy 7 Published works 7.1 English-language collections 7.2 Autobiography 7.3 Novels 7.3.1 Young adult literature 7.4 Plays 7.5 Miscellany 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links Biography Solomon Naumovich (Sholom Nohumovich) Rabinovich Russian: was born in 1859 in Pereiaslav and grew up in the nearby shtetl (small town with a large Jewish population) of Voronkiv, in the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire (now in the Kyiv Oblast of central Ukraine).  His father, Menachem-Nukhem Rabinovich, was a rich merchant at that time.  However, a failed business affair plunged the family into poverty and Solomon Rabinovich grew up in reduced circumstances.  When he was 13 years old, the family moved back to Pereyaslav, where his mother, Chaye-Esther, died in a cholera epidemic.  Sholem Aleichem's first venture into writing was an alphabetic glossary of the epithets used by his stepmother. At the age of fifteen, inspired by Robinson Crusoe, he composed a Jewish version of the novel. He adopted the pseudonym Sholem Aleichem, a Yiddish variant of the Hebrew expression shalom aleichem, meaning "peace be with you" and typically used as a greeting. In 1876, after graduating from school in Pereyaslav, he spent three years tutoring a wealthy landowner's daughter, Olga (Hodel) Loev (1865 1942).  From 1880 to 1883 he served as crown rabbi in Lubny.  On May 12, 1883, he and Olga married, against the wishes of her father.
A few years later, they inherited the estate of Olga's father. In 1890, Sholem Aleichem lost their entire fortune in a stock speculation and fled from his creditors.
Solomon and Olga had their first child, a daughter named Ernestina (Tissa), in 1884.  Daughter Lyalya (Lili) was born in 1887. As Lyalya Kaufman, she became a Hebrew writer. Lyalya's daughter Bel Kaufman, also a writer, was the author of Up the Down Staircase, which was also made into a successful film.
A third daughter, Emma, was born in 1888. In 1889, Olga gave birth to a son. They named him Elimelech, after Olga's father, but at home they called him Misha.Daughter Marusi (who would one day publish "My Father, Sholom Aleichem" under her married name Marie Waife-Goldberg) was born in 1892. A final child, a son named Nochum (Numa) after Solomon's father was born in 1901 (under the name Norman Raeben he became a painter and an influential art teacher). After witnessing the pogroms that swept through southern Russia in 1905, including Kyiv, Sholem Aleichem left Kyiv and resettled to New York City, where he arrived in 1906. His family[clarification needed] set up house in Geneva, Switzerland, but when he saw he could not afford to maintain two households, he joined them in Geneva in 1908. Despite his great popularity, he was forced to take up an exhausting schedule of lecturing to make ends meet. In July 1908, during a reading tour in Russia, Sholem Aleichem collapsed on a train going through Baranowicze. He was diagnosed with a relapse of acute hemorrhagic tuberculosis and spent two months convalescing in the town's hospital. He later described the incident as "meeting his majesty, the Angel of Death, face to face", and claimed it as the catalyst for writing his autobiography, Funem yarid [From the Fair].
 He thus missed the first Conference for the Yiddish Language, held in 1908 in Czernovitz; his colleague and fellow Yiddish activist Nathan Birnbaum went in his place.  Sholem Aleichem spent the next four years living as a semi-invalid. During this period the family was largely supported by donations from friends and admirers. Sholem Aleichem moved to New York City again with his family in 1914. The family lived in the Lower East Side, Manhattan.
His son, Misha, ill with tuberculosis, was not permitted entry under United States immigration laws and remained in Switzerland with his sister Emma. Sholem Aleichem died in New York in 1916. Literary career A volume of Sholem Aleichem stories in Yiddish, with the author's portrait and signature Like his contemporaries Mendele Mocher Sforim and I. Peretz, Sholem Rabinovitch started writing in Hebrew, as well as in Russian.In 1883, when he was 24 years old, he published his first Yiddish story, Tsvey Shteyner ("Two Stones"), using for the first time the pseudonym Sholem Aleichem. By 1890 he was a central figure in Yiddish literature, the vernacular language of nearly all East European Jews, and produced over forty volumes in Yiddish. It was often derogatorily called "jargon", but Sholem Aleichem used this term in an entirely non-pejorative sense. Apart from his own literary output, Sholem Aleichem used his personal fortune to encourage other Yiddish writers.
In 188889, he put out two issues of an almanac, Di Yidishe Folksbibliotek ("The Yiddish Popular Library") which gave important exposure to young Yiddish writers. In 1890, after he lost his entire fortune, he could not afford to print the almanac's third issue, which had been edited but was subsequently never printed. Tevye the Dairyman, in Yiddish Tevye der Milchiger, was first published in 1894. Over the next few years, while continuing to write in Yiddish, he also wrote in Russian for an Odessa newspaper and for Voskhod, the leading Russian Jewish publication of the time, as well as in Hebrew for Ha-melitz, and for an anthology edited by YH Ravnitzky.
It was during this period that Sholem Aleichem contracted tuberculosis. In August 1904, Sholem Aleichem edited : - Hilf: a Zaml-Bukh fir Literatur un Kunst ("Help: An Anthology for Literature and Art"; Warsaw, 1904) and himself translated three stories submitted by Tolstoy (Esarhaddon, King of Assyria; Work, Death and Sickness; The Three Questions) as well as contributions by other prominent Russian writers, including Chekhov, in aid of the victims of the Kishinev pogrom. Critical reception Sholem Aleichem's narratives were notable for the naturalness of his characters' speech and the accuracy of his descriptions of shtetl life. Early critics focused on the cheerfulness of the characters, interpreted as a way of coping with adversity.
Later critics saw a tragic side in his writing.  He was often referred to as the "Jewish Mark Twain" because of the two authors' similar writing styles and use of pen names. Both authors wrote for adults and children and lectured extensively in Europe and the United States.  Beliefs and activism Sholem Aleichem was an impassioned advocate of Yiddish as a national Jewish language, which he felt should be accorded the same status and respect as other modern European languages.
He did not stop with what came to be called "Yiddishism", but devoted himself to the cause of Zionism as well. Many of his writings present the Zionist case. In 1888, he became a member of Hovevei Zion.In 1907, he served as an American delegate to the Eighth Zionist Congress held in The Hague. Sholem Aleichem had a mortal fear of the number 13. His manuscripts never had a page 13; he numbered the thirteenth pages of his manuscripts as 12a.  Though it has been written that even his headstone carries the date of his death as "May 12a, 1916",  his headstone reads the dates of his birth and death in Hebrew, the 26th of Adar and the 10th of Iyar, respectively. Death Sholem Aleichem's funeral on May 15, 1916 Sholem Aleichem died in New York on May 13, 1916 from tuberculosis and diabetes,  aged 57, while working on his last novel, Motl, Peysi the Cantor's Son, and was buried at Old Mount Carmel cemetery in Queens.  At the time, his funeral was one of the largest in New York City history, with an estimated 100,000 mourners.  The next day, his will was printed in the New York Times and was read into the Congressional Record of the United States. He told his friends and family to gather, read my will, and also select one of my stories, one of the very merry ones, and recite it in whatever language is most intelligible to you. " "Let my name be recalled with laughter, " he added, "or not at all. The celebrations continue to the present day, and, in recent years, have been held at the Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park South in New York City, where they are open to the public.  He composed the text to be engraved on his tombstone in Yiddish: Do ligt a Id a posheter - Here lies a Jew a simple-one, Geshriben Idish-Daitsh far vayber - Wrote Yiddish-German (translations) for women Un faren prosten folk hot er geven a humorist a shrayber - and for the regular folk, was a writer of humor Di gantse lebn umgelozt geshlogen mit der welt kapores -His whole life he slaughtered ritual chickens together with the crowd, (He didn't care too much for this world) Di gantse welt hot gut gemacht - the whole world does good, Un er - oy vey - geveyn oyf tsores - and he, oh my, is in trouble. Un davka de mol geven der oylem hot gelacht - but exactly when the world is laughing geklutched un fleg zich fleyen - clapping and hitting their lap, Doch er gekrenkt dos veys nor got - he cries - only God knows this Besod, az keyner zol nit zeen - in secret, so no-one sees. In 1997, a monument dedicated to Sholem Aleichem was erected in Kyiv; another was erected in 2001 in Moscow. The main street of Birobidzhan is named after Sholem Aleichem; streets were named after him also in other cities in the former Soviet Union, most notably among them in Ukrainian cities such as Kyiv, Odessa, Vinnytsia, Lviv, and Zhytomyr. In New York City in 1996, East 33rd Street between Park and Madison Avenue is additionally named "Sholem Aleichem Place". Many streets in Israel are named after him. An impact crater on the planet Mercury also bears his name.
 On March 2, 2009 (150 years after his birth) the National Bank of Ukraine issued an anniversary coin celebrating Aleichem with his face depicted on it.  Vilnius, Lithuania has a Jewish school named after him and in Melbourne, Australia a Yiddish school, Sholem Aleichem College is named after him.
 Several Jewish schools in Argentina were also named after him.  In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil a library named BIBSA Biblioteca Sholem Aleichem was founded in 1915 as a Zionist institution but some years later Jews of left-wing assumed the power by regular internal polls, and Sholem Aleichem started to mean Communism in Rio de Janeiro. BIBSA had a very active theatrical program in Yiddish for more than 50 years since its foundation and of course Sholem Aleichem scripts were a must. In 1947 BIBSA evolved in a more complete club named ASA Associação Sholem Aleichem that exists nowadays in Botafogo neighborhood. Next year, in 1916 same group that created BIBSA, founded a Jewish school named Escola Sholem Aleichem that was closed in 1997.It was Zionist too, and became Communist like BIBSA, but after the 20th Communist Congress in 1956 school supporters and teachers split as a lot of Jews abandoned Communism and founded another school, Colégio Eliezer Steinbarg, still existing as one of the best Jewish schools in Brazil, named after the first director of Sholem Aleichem School, he himself, a Jewish writer born in Romania, that came to Brazil.  In the Bronx, New York, a housing complex called The Shalom Aleichem Houses was built by Yiddish speaking immigrants in the 1920s, and was recently restored by new owners to its original grandeur. The Shalom Alecheim Houses are part of a proposed historic district in the area. On May 13, 2016 a Sholem Aleichem website was launched to mark the 100th anniversary of Sholem Aleichem's death.  The website is a partnership between Sholem Aleichem's family,  his biographer Professor Jeremy Dauber,  Citizen Film, Columbia University's Center for Israel and Jewish Studies,  The Covenant Foundation, and The Yiddish Book Center.  The website features interactive maps and timelines,  recommended readings,  as well as a list of centennial celebration events taking place worldwide.  The website also features resources for educators.  Sholem Aleichem's granddaughter, Bel Kaufman, by his daughter Lala (Lyalya), was an American author, most widely known for her novel, Up the Down Staircase, published in 1964, which was adapted to the stage and also made into a motion picture in 1967, starring Sandy Dennis. The stories which form the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. The Best of Sholom Aleichem, edited by R. Howe (originally published 1979), Walker and Co.
Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories, translated by H. A Treasury of Sholom Aleichem Children's Stories, translated by Aliza Shevrin, Jason Aronson, 1996, ISBN 1-56821-926-1. Inside Kasrilovka, Three Stories, translated by I. Goldstick, Schocken Books, 1948 (variously reprinted) The Old Country, translated by Julius & Frances Butwin, J B H of Peconic, 1999, ISBN 1-929068-21-2. Stories and Satires, translated by Curt Leviant, Sholom Aleichem Family Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-929068-20-4.
Selected Works of Sholem-Aleykhem, edited by Marvin Zuckerman & Marion Herbst (Volume II of "The Three Great Classic Writers of Modern Yiddish Literature"), Joseph Simon Pangloss Press, 1994, ISBN 0-934710-24-4. Some Laughter, Some Tears, translated by Curt Leviant, Paperback Library, 1969, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 68-25445. Novels Stempenyu, originally published in his Folksbibliotek, adapted 1905 for the play Jewish Daughters.
Yossele Solovey (1889, published in his Folksbibliotek) Tevye's Daughters, translated by F. Mottel the Cantor's son. English version: Henry Schuman, Inc.New York 1953 In The Storm Wandering Stars Marienbad, translated by Aliza Shevrin 1982, G. Putnam Sons, New York from original Yiddish manuscript copyrighted by Olga Rabinowitz in 1917 The Bloody Hoax Menahem-Mendl, translated as The Adventures of Menahem-Mendl, translated by Tamara Kahana, Sholom Aleichem Family Publications, 1969, ISBN 1-929068-02-6. Young adult literature The Bewitched Tailor, Sholom Aleichem Family Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-929068-19-0. Numerous stories in Russian, published in Voskhod (18911892) WHO WAS SHOLEM ALEICHEM?
Sholem Aleichem: novelist, essayist, playwright and one of the great writers of the late-19th and early-20thcenturies. Born Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich, he created rich characters that stand out because of their humanity and their universal appeal.He was read and admired by Tolstoy and Chekhov, and by hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers who pored over his weekly installments. Published serially in the burgeoning mass medium of Yiddish newsprint, Sholem Aleichem had a close relationship with his readers, similar in many ways to popular bloggers and their readers today. His protagonists are lovable, fallible people from a traditional world, running headlong towards the brink of modernity. In his day, Sholem Aleichem was often called The Jewish Mark Twain.
Like Twain, he was skilled at writing dialogue in many different voices. His Motl, Menakhem Mendel, Sheyne Sheyndel, Tevye and a panoply of other characters still pop off the page today. Sholem Aleichem wrote primarily about Eastern European Jews, and is perhaps best known for Tevye the Dairyman, upon which Broadways Fiddler on the Roof, one of the most popular shows of all time, is based. The theme song of Fiddler on the Roof is now so universal, it has been performed in Japanese, Hungarian, Hindi and even by sock puppets viewed by thousands of people on A Stenographer for His Peoples Soul Sholem Aleichem, the subject of Jeremy Daubers new biography, aspired to be'A writer of the people... A mirror in which the rays of his epoch and generation are reflected.
As a comprehensive, prodigiously researched new biography by Jeremy Dauber suggests, nowhere did the two modes intermingle with such natural genius as in the fictions of Sholem Aleichem, the very archetype of the Jewish storyteller. Life is rich with facts, that beloved Yiddish writer observed, full of curiosities, many misfortunes, a sea of tears, which, as they will pass through my prism will already become by themselves comic, beloved delights. In telling that writers story, Dauber, a professor of Yiddish literature at Columbia University, gives us both a life rich in facts and an introduction to a brand of literary alchemy that transmuted tears into comic delights.
The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem opens with a family hemmed, like countless others, into the Pale of Settlement by a czarist government that both sanctioned and incited anti-Semitic pogroms. Sholem Rabinovich was born in a town near Kiev, Ukraine, in 1859 (the same year as Alfred Dreyfus). After he lost his mother to cholera when he was 13, he penned his first work: a dictionary of the Yiddish curses his stepmother hurled his way.
His public-school teacher, he remembered, used to good-humoredly inform us that Jews were physiologically incapable of truly internalizing Russian culture. But he immersed himself in the books of his fellow Ukrainian Nikolai Gogol, and, in Russian translation, those of Shakespeare, Dickens, Swift and Cervantes. At 18, the young man landed a job as a Hebrew tutor to the teenage daughter of a wealthy landowner, who banished him from the manor when their love became too open. Four years later, Sholem and Olga married against her fathers wishes.
They would have six children. After the death of his father-in-law, Sholem inherited a fortune, gave up his career as a Hebrew essayist for one as a writer of Yiddish stories, and founded a groundbreaking, annual Yiddish literary anthology. But, aided by over-confidence and a poor business sense that would plague him throughout his life, the aspiring writer lost everything in the market crash of 1890. Im down in flames, he wrote to a friend.
Seized by a fire of debts and obligations. Fleeing his creditors in Kiev, he moved his family to Odessa, only to return three years later after his mother-in-law paid off his debts. In 1906 Warsaw alone, Dauber notes, there were five Yiddish dailies and three weeklies competing for mass readership. The popularity of his serialized stories soared.
In 1908, Baal Makhshoves, the first Yiddish literary critic, wrote: Among the folk, there is hardly a celebration or gathering where the guests are not asked, Would you care to hear some Sholem Aleichem read aloud? As one would offer a good glass of wine with a piece of cake. His stories confirmed his position not just as a writer, but as a culture-hero who personified Yiddish itself. Niger, another prominent critic, the Jews seemed to be listening to themselves.Fame, but neither fortune nor pretention, followed. His reading tours were rapturously received. In Dvinsk, they drowned me in flowers. In Brisk, ovations without number. In Lodz, workers pressed forward to kiss his hand. In Vitebsk, the young Marc Chagall clambered over a fence in the attempt to steal a glimpse of the great man.
In Warsaw, a Hasid rushed up to him and said, You are our comfort, you sweeten the bitterness of our exile! In 1905, however, a four-day pogrom in Kiev signaled that exile had far from exhausted its store of bitterness. The harrowing experience of his narrow escape (which he would incorporate into his 1907 novel In the Storm) helped seal Sholem Aleichems decision to leave: first to Lemberg, in Galicia, then Geneva, and then to America. The American Sholem Aleichem Dignitaries, welcoming committees, and the editors of the citys four daily Yiddish papers greeted him at New York Harbor. One of those papers heralded his arrival with a front-page photo of The Jewish Mark Twain (another writer overtaken by his own pen name).
New York State Supreme Court Justice Samuel Greenbaum arranged a meeting of the two men. Acting as translator, he introduced the Yiddish writer as the Jewish Mark Twain.
Yet as the euphoria wore off, Sholem Aleichem found that all was not golden in the Goldene Medine. His plays for the Second Avenue Yiddish theaters, panned by critics, both flopped.
The Yiddish papers showed scant interest in his a cycle of stories about his beloved character Motl, the character closest to his heart. The Motl stories appeared in installments in 1906-07 and 1915-16. In the summer of 1908, Sholem Aleichem undertook a taxing reading tour in Russia, where his stories had begun to appear in Russian translation to great acclaim (and to the favorable attention of Leo Tolstoy and Maxim Gorki).
He is national as Maupassant, Dickens, and Chekhov are national, one Russian critic wrote. During the tour, he suffered a serious collapse, later describing the privilege of meeting his majesty, the Angel of Death, face to face. For the next year he was hospitalized in a series of tuberculosis wards and sanitaria in Germany, Switzerland and the Italian Riviera. This time he was greeted with a standing-room-only event at Carnegie Hall and offers to appear in English translation in the New York World, a broadsheet owned by Joseph Pulitzer.But his finances remained desperate, and he was shattered by the word that his son Misha, 24, who had been stranded in Copenhagen by the war, had died of tuberculosis. When Sholem Aleichem died in 1916, aged 57, his funeral was the largest New York had ever seen. Congressman William Stiles Bennet called it the greatest spontaneous gathering of the people in the history of our city. Sweatshops closed and sidewalks thronged as his cortege wound its way from the Bronx to a synagogue in Harlem, through the Lower East Side, and to a cemetery in Brooklyn. He had asked to be buried among the plain people, the toilers, the common folk. He left his memoir, From the Fair, unfinished on his desk. Artful alchemy of storytelling So much for the rich facts of a life, which Dauber relates in riveting detail.
But what of the artful alchemy of storytelling to which that life was devoted, the work of a graphomaniac whose collected works fill 28 volumes? More than anything else, what makes Daubers book an ideal introduction to Sholem Aleichem is the way it judiciously places the writer at the forefront of an emergent sense that Yiddish literature could and should be literary. Literary, but not deadly serious. Not for him the urbane modernism of I. But also not for him the shund-roman, the trashy Yiddish romances.
Before him, under the influence of the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment, Jewish literature was, as it had ever been, earnest, didactic and moralistic in tone. Yiddish - so-called jargon - had been disdained by high-minded custodians of Hebrew, like the poet Y.
Gordon, stigmatized by Zionists who resisted the cultural products of exile, and belittled by assimilated Russian-speaking Jews. Sholem Aleichems father, himself an ardent devotee of the Haskalah, once expressed pride in his sons books, even if they were written in a weekday tongue of cooks and serving-girls. But by affording Yiddish a new and dignified status, by freeing the rich literary potential of the vernacular, the common jargon, Sholem Aleichem accomplished its artistic redemption. He did this, in Daubers telling, not just by mastering - and taking boundless pleasure in - the melodies and cadences of a language in which he felt so utterly and obviously at home, but in establishing an unprecedented intimacy with his readers. He often gives the impression that rather than inventing stories, he was merely transcribing or overhearing them.One of his early satiric sketches is called Letters Stolen from the Post Office. The Russian-born Hebrew writer Y. Brenner spoke of Sholem Aleichem - a folkschreiber, to use his own term - not as a writer but as a stenographer taking dictation from the soul of his people. Sholem Aleichems people gave him - and recognized themselves in - his gallery of garrulous characters: luckless schlemiels; schemers who fill their heads with pipe dreams of making millions; raucous talkers who prattle and chatter and forget their main point (characters, as a friend of mine once put it, who have a one-track mind and no train of thought); virtuoso sufferers who quote half-understood biblical verses; defenseless young men lured into arranged marriages (as Isaac Bashevis Singer noticed, there is no sex in Sholem Aleichems stories); harried husbands mocked by shrewish wives; careworn peddlers bewildered by the world and resigned to their fate. His readers saw themselves, for example, in Menakhem-Mendel, a luftmensch who seems to eke his living out of thin air; and in Tevye the Dairyman, the mild-mannered modern Job who loses his daughters to Siberian exile, to Christianity, to suicide and to America. They delighted in his imagined insular quintessential shtetl, Kasrilevke (including in the famous 1902 story If I Were Rothschild), and in its poor but cheerful residents. They adopted Motl, the mischievous, illiterate cantors son (Irving Howe called him Sholem Aleichems Tom Sawyer), who speaks to us in the second-person plural about his familys emigration from the Ukraine to New York. But in each case, as Sholem Aleichem shifts between satire and sympathy, as Dauber puts it, readers also responded to the way the characters responded to the forces of dissolution. Sholem Aleichems characters talk - often in wonderful meandering monologues - as though their words could mitigate their own powerlessness.
For all its informality, their language -- and that of their author - registered a deep anxiety. Dauber calls this language a perfect venue to reflect the jarring transpositions of old and new, traditional and modern. This is the trembling beneath the playfulness and wry humor, the source of what Sholem Aleichem famously called open laughter and hidden tears. This is why the man Isaac Babel thought of as the funniest writer in the world subtly animated his stories with the darker undercurrents of anxiety and uncertainty and dizzying dislocation. Reading Sholem Aleichem, said Irving Howe, using a different metaphor, is like wandering through a lovely meadow of laughter and suddenly coming to a precipice of doom.
Epitaph of a vanished world The doom of his readership, however, did not by a long stretch consign Sholem Aleichem to oblivion, and Dauber closes his book with a nuanced account of the writers ambiguous afterlife. Each successive audience, Dauber shows, used Sholem Aleichem for its own purposes. The Soviets turned him into a critic of capitalism. Marxist critic Max Erik, for example, could write in 1935 a sentence like: The roots of Sholem Aleichems critical stance toward Menakhem-Mendl must be sought in the denunciation of the petty bourgeois. In the 1920s, the Moscow State Theater put on his one-act plays (makeup and sets by Marc Chagall), and four Soviet film adaptations came to the big screen.
More intriguing, however, is Daubers skillful account of how Sholem Aleichem entered into American consciousness. Immigrants and children of immigrants, drawn by a sense of guilt into a rosy nostalgia for a tradition and an old country from which they were growing daily more distant, turned him into a touchstone of a bygone authenticity.After the Shoah, they needed his work even more urgently as a memorial to a culture extinguished, the epitaph of a vanished world, as Ben Hecht put it. The effect was an easy sentimentality, an anemic popularization of the quaint shtetl - in short, schmaltz. Tevyes story was adapted in 1939 into a popular movie by Maurice Schwartz, and in 1964 into the slick Tony-award winning musical Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Jerome Robbins and starring Zero Mostel. In the city where Sholem Aleichems own plays had 57 years earlier sputtered after a couple of weeks, Fiddler would play for 3,242 performances over eight years, setting a record for the longest Broadway run. It would also spawn its own afterlife, including four Broadway revivals, and an Academy-Award winning 1971 film starring Chaim Topol. A writer of the people - a true artist and poet - is a mirror in which the rays of his epoch and generation are reflected. So said Sholem Aleichem, whose own epoch was one that sensed more keenly than any other the encroachments of emigration and assimilation, and that felt both presentiments of decline and dreams of regeneration. In so faithfully mirroring his peoples laughter and trembling, he captured a world - and a language - at the precarious moment of its passing, all the more irretrievable for our attempts to retrieve it. Sholem Aleichem Contents Hide Suggested Reading Author (Shalom Rabinovitz; 18591916), one of the founding fathers of modern Yiddish literature. A supreme Jewish humorist, Sholem Aleichem tapped into the energies of the East European, spoken-Yiddish idiom and invented modern Jewish archetypes, myths, and fables of unequaled imaginative potency and universal appeal.
Page from an original manuscript of Funem yarid (Back from the Fair), by Sholem Aleichem, 1915. (YIVO) Born in the provincial town of Pereyaslav (Ukraine) to a middle-class family of timber merchants, Rabinovitz spent a happy childhood in Voronkov.
Here he was suffused with impressions and experiences that he would later utilize artistically, sublimating memories of his tiny childhood hamlet into the literary image of Kasrilevke, the archetypal shtetl. The death of his mother, Esther, and the loss of the familys capital, truncated his childhood felicity.
In spite of his habitual high spirits, depression and impotent fantasies marked Rabinovitzs pubescent years. This dark mood suffused his fictional world as a dangerous undercurrent of distress, sickness, psychosis, and death, which belied its bright surface and informed the Jewish comedy that he was to create.Although the family had a Hasidic background and Rabinovitz was given a traditional heder education, his father, Nokhem, was somewhat exposed to ideas of the Haskalah and encouraged his son to learn Russian and read secular books. Rabinovitz attended the local Russian secondary school, matriculating in 1876 with distinction. In 1877, he became a tutor for the children of a prominent estate owner, Elimelekh Loyev, remaining there for three years until a love affair between him and Olga Loyev, Elimelekhs daughter, was exposed.
Brokenhearted but unvanquished, he ran for the elected post of crown rabbi of the town of Lubny Yid. Luben, won the elections, and resided there from 1880 to 1883.
In those years Rabinovitz began his career as a writer. By 1879, he had already been a local reporter for the Hebrew weekly Ha-Tsefirah.
In 1881 and 1882, his articles, focusing on issues of Jewish education, appeared in Ha-Melits, the chief journalistic organ of the Haskalah. His original intention was to become a Hebrew or a Russian writer, and his resort to Yiddish was, as he would say, accidental. He discovered an issue of the Saint Petersburg weekly Yudishes folks-blat (the only Yiddish periodical in Russia at the time) and realized that the Yiddish language and its literature appealed to the majority because of its accessibility. He was soon at work on his first Yiddish novella, Tsvey shteyner (Two Gravestones), in which he fictionalized his romance with Olga Loyev and ended his tale with the suicide of the two young protagonists.
He published the story in weekly sequels (JulyAugust 1883) in the Folks-blat, but not before he and Olga overcame, in real life, the objections of Elimelekh Loyev and married. The couple moved to the town of Belaia Tserkov, where Rabinovitz worked as an agent for the Brody family of sugar magnates. His first full-length novel, Natashe (later retitled Taybele) appeared in 1884, the same year as the birth of his first child, Esther.In 1885, with the death of his father-in-law, he became the sole trustee of the Loyev estate, and a relatively rich man himself. In 1887, the young family moved to Kiev, where the budding writer dabbled in the stock market.
Tevye der milkhiker (Tevye the Dairyman). The poster advertises a performance of Sholem Aleichems play by the Kraków Jewish Theater, featuring Rudolf Zaslavsky.(YIVO) This enterprise did not bring about any diminution of his literary activity. On the contrary, Rabinovitz was now writing at a dizzying pace, publishing in many genres in Russian, Hebrew, and Yiddish. He also founded a literary almanac, modeled after the prestigious Russian thick literary journals of the day. The appearance of the first volume of the almanac, Di yidishe folks-bibliotek (The Jewish Peoples Library) in 1888 became a milestone in the history of modern Yiddish literature and put Sholem Aleichem at the center of its stage. By 1890, he was bankrupt. The family had to abandon its bourgeois apartment in Kiev and move to humbler quarters in Odessa. He spent several months abroad, until his mother-in-law settled with his creditors, and he rejoined the family in Odessa. Penniless and burdened with a large family, he faced a decade of hardship. The years 18831890 formed a distinct part of Sholem Aleichems career, during which he produced much work (in three languages), the majority of which was never to be included in his official oeuvre, or was thoroughly rewritten later. Sholem Aleichems literary activity during these years was divided between the gentrification and Europeanization of Yiddish literature and the writing of sequences of feuilletons. When he began writing in Yiddish, literature in that language lacked cultural status and artistic respectability. Although it had won the interest of a wide reading public in popular works of fiction such as Ayzik Meyer Diks didactic novellas, Sholem Yankev Abramovitshs Dos kleyne mentshele (The Little Man) and Di klyatshe (The Nag), and Yitskhok Yoyel Linetskis Dos poylishe yingl (The Polish Boy), it still had no sense of continuity and accumulative worth.
Most of its writers hid behind pseudonyms, saving their real names for their productions in other languages. Title page of book 2 of Di yidishe folksbibliotek (Jewish Peoples Library), by Sholem Aleichem (Kiev and Berdichev: Yankev Sheftel, 1889).(YIVO) Sholem Aleichem is itself a peculiar pen name, meaning something like how do you do. The writer resolved to elevate Yiddish literature to the role of a Jewish national literature together with Hebrew. This necessitated the continuous production in Yiddish of meritorious literary works; the establishment of a literary tradition; and the cleansing of current Yiddish writing from popular shund (trash). Sholem Aleichem used his command as the owner and editor of the Folks-bibliotek to encourage writers he admired, such as Abramovitsh and Linetski, to produce new works, all the while looking out for new talent such as Y. He himself set out to create what he called the Jewish novel: a realistic text in which the erotic theme (regarded as a necessary ingredient in any roman) would be developed within the framework of contemporary Jewish society.
Sholem Aleichem had internalized the values of nineteenth-century Russia and its flourishing literature as expounded by the nations chief novelists (his own favorite among them was Ivan Turgenev). He firmly believed in realistic mimesis as the chief means for achieving artistic maturity and in the novel as the genre most conducive to the evolving of such mimesis.During the years 18841889 he produced six novel-length works of fiction, among them Natashe (1884), Sender Blank un zayn gezindl (Sender Blank and his Family; 1888), Stempenyu (1888), and Yosele solovey (Yosele the Nightingale; 1889). The best example of Sholem Aleichems novelistic concept and ability at the time was Stempenyu.
In this work, Sholem Aleichem unfolds an aborted love affair between a musician and a pious woman. Necessarily, the plot of such novels could not be complex or multitiered, since the authors loyalty to what he perceived as the truth of Jewish life would not allow for a full development of the erotic theme. Sholem Aleichem turned intensively to literary criticism in the 1880s in an attempt to establish a literary tradition and to purge Yiddish literature of trash. As a critic, he was invested in the process of elevating certain Yiddish writers to semiclassical status.For example, he presented Abramovitsh, Linetski, and to a certain degree Dik and Avrom Goldfadn, as the harbingers of mimetic realism. Conversely, he waged scathing critical attacks on writers he regarded as hacks. He exposed certain ones, such as the prolific romancier Nokhem Meyer Shaykevitch (known by his pseudonym, Shomer), as sensationalists vying for commercial success.
The classics Sholem Aleichem projected as his own precursors. He took special pains in canonizing Abramovitsh, inventing (in his introduction to Stempenyu) the myth of grandfather Mendele as an éminence grise of Yiddish writing. Of course, the canonization of the grandfather was primarily aimed at asserting the legitimacy of the heir apparent, or the grandson: Sholem Aleichem himself. Between 1883 and 1889, Sholem Aleichem wrote many feuilletonistic sequences, often in epistolary form.
Chief among these were Di ibergekhapte briv af der post (Letters Intercepted at the Post Office; 18831884), An ibershraybung tsvishn tsvey alte khaveyrim (A Correspondence between Two Old Friends; 1884), and Kontor gesheft (Office Business; 1885). He never dreamed of collecting these wild farces and satires, some of which were aimed at ad hominem targets and pertaining to the authors personal enmities. However, it was precisely through these sequences that he quickly became an intimate household name in Yiddish families.In these works, the effervescent persona Sholem Aleichem was born, playing the role of a funny devil who wreaked comic havoc wherever he went; however, this character differed greatly from the chatty omniscient narrator of the authors novels who went by the same name. In these sequences, the author abandoned realism and descriptive verisimilitude in favor of writing within the more primitive traditions of Lucian satire and epistolary parody and pastiche. Through these writings, the author offered the readers literature unbridled by almost any rules of artistic decorum. The readers loved what they read and clamored for more.
Sholem Aleichem, on his part, felt most in his element when indulging in these literary pranks, and of course he savored the popularity. Scissor and Iron, Our People (Big Prize). Polish/Yiddish poster for a performance of Sholem Aleichems play Dos groyse gevins (The Big Prize; also known as Sher un ayzn [Scissor and Iron] and Unzer folk amkha [Our People]) by Rudolf Zaslavskys ensemble at the Peoples Theater, Vilna. (YIVO) In 1890, Sholem Aleichem entered a literary limbo.He no longer had the time or the financial resources to maintain the same level of literary productivity as in the 1880s. Also, with the Folks-blat folded and no similar popular Yiddish organ in existence, he had no outlet for the publication of his Yiddish works. He therefore published little and quite irregularly throughout the decade, often turning to both fiction and essay writing in Hebrew, which brought him close to the circle of the Odessa Zionist writers, whose nationalist mood and politics he shared. The only short (and unfinished) novel Sholem Aleichem managed to write in the 1890s was Meshiekhs tsaytn (The Days of the Redeemer; 1898), a piece of Zionist propaganda of slight literary merit, that directly continued, by fictional means, nonfictional propaganda brochures that he had written right after the first Zionist Congress (1897). Also, the 1890s were the years of Y. Peretzs rise to literary and cultural stardom. Overnight, Peretz became the great hope and the cultural hero of a young Yiddish intelligentsia, wrenching the initiative of modernizing Jewish culture through a modern Yiddish literature out of the hands of Sholem Aleichem.
This was the source of much bitterness to which the dispossessed writer gave expression in a rather unsavory sarcastic critique of his rivals poems. Nevertheless, it was during this decade that Sholem Aleichem devised two critical literary inventions. The first, the character Menakhem Mendl, had briefly appeared in an epistolary feuilleton in 1887 as a young husband still living with his in-laws.Now Menakhem Mendl, already the father of several children, found himself in Odessa, experimented as a small-time stock investor, and forgot about returning to his family. One immediately sensed that the reappearance of Menakhem Mendl in this work marked a sublimation of the habitual hilarity of the authors earlier farces and satires. The character gained semiautobiographical importance in terms of Sholem Aleichems own disastrous penchant for speculation, as well as a depth of significance emanating from the projection of the character as a Jewish hero of a comic myth.
This archetype was at once a version of the modern homo economicus, as well as a representative for henpecked Jewish manhood celebrating its freedom from repressive cultural and familial institutions. The development of this figure was of the greatest symbolic significance, and Menakhem Mendl was to follow Sholem Aleichem throughout his creative life, with new sequels of epistolary exchanges between the speculator and his wife finally occupying two volumes in the authors collected writings. Sholem Aleichems second crucial literary invention during this period was the character Tevye, a dairy supplier to the wealthy inhabitants of Boyberik (Boyre), a summer colony adjacent to the great Yehupets (Kiev). Tevye of the 1895 story Dos groyse gevins (Striking the Jackpot) was a buffoona zesty raconteur in possession of a trove of folk-sayings, funny mistranslations of scripture, and malapropisms. However, like Menakhem Mendl, Tevye possessed an inherent inability to cope with the vicissitudes of existence.
Coupled with a tendency to counterbalance this passivity through a vivacious loquacity, he exposed his own shortcomings in a seductive yarn. Tevye consistently rendered the listener his ally rather than his critic, and on one level, this was a subtle revelation of the authors own manipulation of the reader through self-effacing humor. Tevye was one of Sholem Aleichems greatest achievements and he remained a fixture in his work.
With new Tevye stories appearing every few years, each story reflected changing historical circumstances and added fresh subtleties to the complex icon. 51, Warsaw, 1900: playscript for Mentshn, by Sholem Aleichem, with notes by the author inserted in Yiddish and Russian. RG 107, Letters Collection, Box 16, F20.(YIVO) In 1899, the weekly Yiddish publication Der yud appeared and allowed Sholem Aleichem to earn a living from his writing. As the Yiddish reading public during this period consumed literature via the newspaper rather than in book form, he was required to produce short pieces for the newspaper on a weekly basis. He did write two short novels in this time, entitled Ver veyst?
; 1902, and Moshkele ganef [Moshkele the Thief]; 1903. While the writer himself probably regretted this state of affairs, his short pieces amounted to the very core of his oeuvre and displayed his brilliance to the best effect. Sholem Aleichems son-in-law, Yitsak Dov Berkowitz, compared his father-in-law at the time to a stoker in a locomotive throwing coals into burning furnaces, which were not to cool off for a minute, lest the train lose velocity and come to a grinding halt.
Indeed, Sholem Aleichems creative train chugged through these years (18991905) at full speed. The body of work Sholem Aleichem created during these years is vast and variegated. Schematization of his publications reveals four genres: monologues, stories about children, holiday narratives, and the Kasrilevke tales. Most important were the monologues, spoken by specific characters and often addressed to a fictionalized interlocutor, such as Sholem Aleichem in the Tevye stories.
The emergence of this genre was based on the success of these tales; by 1905, Sholem Aleichem had written four of the nine stories that were to add up to his Gants Tevye der milkhiker (The Complete Tevye the Dairyman). However, it was with the publication of Dos tepl (The Pot; 1901) that the monologue evolved into the writers forme maitresse. Dos tepl was succeeded by Gendz (Geese; 1902), Funem priziv (From the Draft; 1902), Gimenazye (High School; 1902), Finf un zibetsik toyzent (Seventy-Five Thousand; 1902), A nisref (Burnt Out; 1903), An eytse (Advice; 1904), Yoysef (Joseph; 1905), Khabne (1905), and the particularly complex and bewildering Dray almones (Three Widows; 1907). Superficially, each story presented a disorganized effusion of its gossipy monologist, yet beneath this veneer was a human being in great distress. Nowhere else did Sholem Aleichem succeed in yoking together comedy and tragedy as he did in these monologues, in which the tensors of spoken Yiddish as a provincial vernacular were tautly contracted and flexed in the creation of texts of universal import.Second, Sholem Aleichem wrote stories focusing on children. These were usually composed as monologues spoken by a child, whose experiences were refracted through the prism of an adult consciousness. The use of this hybrid construct often gave rise to problems of stylistic uniformity and psychological coherence, but as often resulted in thoroughly integrated narrative amalgams. Of such amalgams are the stories Der zeyger (The Clock; 1900), Di fon (The Banner; 1900), Afn fidl (The Violin; 1902), and Der esreg (The Citron; 1902). Many of these childrens stories also belonged to the category of Yontev Stories, stories published by the Jewish press on the eves of traditional Jewish holidays. Sholem Aleichem was contractually obliged to supply holiday stories to all the newspapers for which he worked. He often succeeded in fleshing out the required rudiments of this subgenre into a poignant work, as in Af Peysekh aheym (Homebound for Passover; 1903). In this story about a teacher who risks his life crossing a half-frozen river in his quest to return home for Passover, the author brought together notions regarding the Jewish calendar, the natural seasons, contemporary life, and the reenactment of the biblical myth of the crossing of the Red Sea. Yiddish poster advertising a Yung-teater production of a play by Sholem Aleichem.
(YIVO) A final category of stories gave Sholem Aleichem the opportunity to create his Kasrilevke, the quintessential shtetl. While he previously dealt with small-town and hamlet scenes, it was only in the early 1900s that such scenes coalesced into the unified image of Kasrilevke. The self-seeking Kasriliks were plagued by dire poverty yet somehow managed to stay upbeat, always dreaming of miraculous events and redemption, as in the story Ven ikh bin Roytshild (If I Were Rothschild; 1902). By 1905, Sholem Aleichem felt overextended physically and mentally. Unable to meet his financial obligations without constantly producing new work at an unrealistic pace, he turned his hopes to the theater.In 1905, his drama Tsezeyt un tseshpreyt (Scattered and Dispersed; 1903) was staged successfully in Warsaw on the Polish stage. Emboldened by this positive reception, he planned a collaborative effort to launch a Yiddish theater in Odessa; however, his plans fell through due to the Russian authorities extreme distrust of any cultural activity that could be used as a cover for revolutionary propaganda. In October, the widespread pogroms followed by the abortive 1905 Russian Revolution prompted his departure from the tsarist empire. In December, the family crossed the border and ensconced itself in Lemberg. Following the summer of 1906, he went through Geneva to London, where he spent part of the fall before setting out for New York City. In New York, the Yiddish and the American-English press greeted Sholem Aleichem as a celebrity. Dubbed the Jewish Mark Twain, the journalistic fanfare went to his head. Sholem Aleichem, insensitive to the New York Yiddish literary communitys strong sense of its own worth, made patronizing remarks, announcing the role he would play in elevating the American Yiddish theater to the European artistic level. This boasting came home to roost as Sholem Aleichems own two plays, Yaknehoz and a dramatization of Stempenyu, were flopsmuch to the schadenfreude of the local Yiddishist community. Compounding his unpopularity, Sholem Aleichem alienated the influential left-wing Yiddish press by aligning himself with conservative and traditionalist newspapers such as the Tageblat. In short, his American sojourn turned out to be a fiasco.
In the summer of 1907, he departed for Europe, disappointed and resentful. Yet he took from this experience the idea for a series of stories about the mass emigration from Eastern Europe to New York in the wake of the 1905 pogroms.
The immigrants struggles of acculturation were presented through the eyes of a shtetl boy named Motl. The work expounded the writers optimistic view that East European Jewry would emerge strong from the downfall of its traditional civilization and from the melting pot of assimilation.The first chapters of Motl Peyse dem khazns (Motl the Son of Cantor Peyse) were written before the authors return to Europe and continued throughout 1907. Members of the Bene Tsiyon (Sons of Zion) society with visiting writer Sholem Aleichem (second row from front, fifth from left) and composer Mark Varshavski (third from left), Berdichev now Berdychiv, Ukr. (YIVO) Unwilling to return to the tsarist empire, he stayed briefly in Geneva, then went to Berlin. Crestfallen and fatigued, Sholem Aleichem nevertheless had to produce at a steady pace if he was to earn an income. With serial publication of novels in demand, he wrote the lengthy Der mabl (The Deluge, later retitled In shturm [In the Storm]; 1907), succeeded by Blonzhende shtern (Wandering Stars; 19091911) and Der blutiker shpas (The Bloody Hoax; 1912). Returning to America in 1915, Sholem Aleichem wrote his autobiographical novel, Funem yarid (Back from the Fair), Der misteyk (The Mistake), and the second part of the Motl sequence (all three works remain unfinished). These were written very quickly in serialized form, the author always running only a few episodes ahead of the one that went to the printer. Although he would never regain the craft of his earlier works, the epistolary stories Marienbad (1911) and the new Menakhem Mendl series (1913) somewhat recaptured his earlier flair. In 1908, financial hardship and nostalgia for his East European readers drove Sholem Aleichem to tour throughout the Jewish Pale of Ukraine and Belorussia.
For three months he traveled from one town to another, performing as a one-man act, which took a serious toll on his health. Diagnosed with open tuberculosis, he became bedridden, yet continued writing.
Set design by Isaac Rabichev for Get (Divorce) by Sholem Aleichem, Moscow State Yiddish Theater, 1924. (Hillel Kazovsky) During World War I, Sholem Aleichem escaped from Berlin to Copenhagen. In the summer of 1915, crushed by the news of his son Mishas sudden death, Sholem Aleichem wrote a will and spoke of his own impending death. He nevertheless continued writing new chapters for both the autobiographical novel, of which the first two of the intended eight parts had been completed, and for the sequel of the Motl stories.In 1916, he fell ill and died on 13 May. Two days later, he was given a temporary burial (he was reburied in the Har Carmel cemetery in Queens, although he desired to be buried in Kiev, alongside his father). Attracting hundreds of thousands of mourners, the funeral evolved into an unprecedented demonstration of the size and cohesion of New Yorks Yiddish-speaking populationno longer a conglomerate of rootless immigrants, but rather an organized community, joined in their grief for the loss of a great artist. Sholem Aleichems legacy has been of a universal scope and significance. Since 1909, his works have been translated into dozens of languages with complete sets of comprehensive selections appearing in Hebrew and Russian. In the 1960s, his Tevye stories, having gone through theatrical productions in the United States, Soviet Russia, and Israel (including a serious cinematic adaptation by Morris Schwarz), enjoyed international success in Fiddler on the Roof, a Broadway musical classic that has played at almost every theatrical center in the world. Much impressionistic criticism of uneven quality has been written on Sholem Aleichem. In contrast, serious Sholem Aleichem scholarship is limited. The 28 volumes of the Folksfond edition published by Berkowitz between 1917 and 1925, while still the most widely used, does not encompass much more than half of the authors Yiddish output.
As for the authors recorded life, only the mere rudiments of a trustworthy scholarly biography are available. The authors own semifictional rendering of the story of his early years (in Funem yarid and other writings), as well as memoirs recorded by himself, his son-in-law, his brother Volf Rabinovitz, and his daughter Marie, serve as a basis for study, yet cannot be taken as factual biography. Other biographical and scholarly sources include Uri Finkels rudimentary Sholem Aleykhem (Moscow, 1939), as well as Uriel Weinreichs study, Principal Research Sources The Field of Yiddish, vol. 278291, since updated by Khone Shmeruk (Shalom-Alekhem, madrikh le-ayav veli-yetsirato; 1990).
From Sholem Aleichem in Kiev to Yehoshua ana Ravnitski, October 1903. Sholem Aleichem fully expects that Yiddish will play a great role in the culture of the Jewish people but that one would need to be half a prophet or a whole fool to say this out loud. RG 107, Letters Collection, Box 16, F1.
(YIVO) As noted, the critical and scholarly writing on Sholem Aleichems work is quantitatively vast. Comprehensive assessments and interpretations were launched in 1908 and 1912 by the critics Bal-Makhshoves and Shmuel Niger, respectively. The former analyzed the symbolic functions of Sholem Aleichems chief characters. A perception of Tevye and Motl as illustrations of the writers benign humor vis-à-vis his harsher satire i. Menakhem Mendl informed Nigers criticism throughout his scholarly career cf.
His 1928 short monograph Sholem Aleykhem, zayne vikhtikste verk, zayn humor un zayn ort in der yidisher literatur [Sholem Aleichem, His Most Important Works, His Humor and His Place in Yiddish Literature]. After the writers death in 1916, an array of critical appraisals appeared throughout the Jewish world, the bulk of which was by Soviet scholars and critics. Their work fell into three major categories: Nokhem Oyslender, Yitskhok Nusinov, Yekhezkl Dobrushin, Maks Erik, Meyer Viner, and others used a positivist-historical approach to study the evolution of the authors texts. A second category, dominated by such critics as Viner, Moyshe Mizheritsky, and Erik, was marked by Marxist theoretical concepts offering a view of Sholem Aleichems vision as an expression of the Jewish petite bourgeoisie at the turn of the century.
The third category was the philological study of Sholem Aleichems language and style. Critics such as Ayzik Zaretski (1926, 1927), Khayim Loytsker (1939), and Elye Spivak (1940) laid the foundation for the understanding of the various aspects of Sholem Aleichems artistic usage of Yiddish and highlighted the stylistic virtuosity evident in his best works. After World War II, the focus of Sholem Aleichem scholarship and criticism shifted to Israel and North America. In Israel, Shmeruk continued the Positivist-Historical perspective, with his ideas, as well as the most thought-provoking ones of critic Dov Sadan, informing the work of a new generation of scholars both in Israel and in the United States.
New scholarship dealt with such issues as the fictionality of the Sholem Aleichem persona (Miron, 1972); Sholem Aleichems humor and the challenges of Jewish tragic history (Ruth Wisse, 1971, 2000; David Roskies, 1984); the writers use of the monologue (Victor Erlich, 1964; Miron, 1978; Hana Wirth-Nesher, 1981; Benjamin Harshav, 1983; Ken Frieden, 1989, 1995), and many other topics. Sholem Aleichem scholarship and criticism can be said to have been opened up to post-Positivist, modernist and postmodernist views and perspectives. Theres a reason that Tevyeparticularly in his later incarnation as a musical theater staris so beloved by audiences from Broadway to Tokyo. That reason has to do with the brilliance and heart that Sholem Aleichem lavished on his creation, forging a character that tells us something about what it means to live, to love, to struggle, and to change.
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