Mendele Mocher Sforim: the grandfather of Yiddish literature – Israel in Translation


Today, Mendele Mocher Sforim is known as a quiet, Bauhaus-filled street that runs from Hayarkon to just past Shalom Aleichem. Yet in the late 18th century, Mendele Mocher Sforim, or ‘Mendele the book peddler,’ was an author who depicted the world of the shtetl (village) with all of its poverty and decay. He is now considered the grandfather of Yiddish literature and one of the founders of ‘modern’ Jewish literature. He ‘wanted to be useful to his people rather than gain literary laurels,’ and his satirical, critical stories got him chased from town.

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Text:

Of Bygone Days, Translated by Rayomond P. Scheindlin.
In A Shtetl and Other Yiddish Novellas, Ed. Ruth Wisse. Wayne State University Press, 1986.

Music:

Avraimi der Marvicher – Chava Alberstein
Di Goldene Pave – Ana Margolin, performed by The Klezmatics & Chava Alberstein

 

Photo: The Odessa literary group in 1916; from left to right: Yehoshua Ravnitzki, Shloyme Ansky, Mendele M. Sforim, Hayim N. Bialik, Simon Frug.

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