“This is the chronicle of the city of Buczacz, which I have written in my pain and anguish so that our descendants should know that our city was full of Torah, wisdom, love, piety, life, grace, kindness, and charity.”
So begins Shai Agnon’s epic story cycle entitled A City in Its Fullness – a literary memorial to the city of his birth, now called Buchach in Western Ukraine. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Agnon’s receipt of the Nobel Prize in Literature (Agnon is the only Hebrew language writer ever to receive the prize), and in honor of the upcoming Jewish fast of Tisha b’Av, host Marcela Sulak reads from a story in this cycle called “Pisces.” It’s about a householder called Fishl Karp, a portly man who loves food and gets distracted on his way to the synagogue one morning:
“He met a fisherman with his net coming from the Strypa. He was stooped under the weight of the net, and the net was shaking itself and its bearer. Fishl looked and saw a fish quivering there in the net. In all his days, Fishl had never seen such a large fish. When his eyes settled down after seeing the new sight, his soul began to quiver with desire to enjoy a meal made from the fish. So great was his appetite that he didn’t ask how such a stupendous fish had found its way into the waters that do not produce large fish. What did Fishl say when he saw the fish? He said, ‘The Leviathan knows that Fishl Karp loves large fish and sent him what he loves.'”
“Pisces.” Translated by Jeffrey M. Green in A City in Its Fullness by S. Y. Agnon. Edited by Alan Mintz and Jeffrey Saks. Toby Press, 2016.
The Chicago Klezmer Ensemble – Doyna And Sirba Populara; Sweet Home Bukovina; Mazltov; A Hora Mit Tsibeles
Producer: Laragh Widdess
Technical producer: Alex Benish