From Teen Chronicler of Yiddish Curses to Global Fame: Sholem Aleichem’s Multitudes
Jeremy Dauber’s biography of the genius behind Tevye traces his life and legacy from shtetl child to international superstar
When people hear the name Sholem Aleichem, they very often think of Tevye the Dairyman and his Broadway showstoppers. It’s true, Sholem Aleichem wrote the stories on which Fiddler on the Roof is based, but his body of work is much broader than that. In dozens of stories, novels, newspaper articles, plays, and even poems, Sholem Aleichem, who was born Sholem Rabinovich, depicted the humor and despair that characterized shtetl life at a moment when it faced threats from within and without. He was also a great advocate of Yiddish, and of the Jewish people. Readers and critics considered him the “Jewish Mark Twain” and when he died from tuberculosis in 1916 at the age of 57, he left behind tens of thousands of fans in Europe and the United States.
His life was relatively short but it made a lasting mark. Sholem Aleichem is now the subject of a new biography by Jeremy Dauber, a professor of Yiddish at Columbia University. The book is called The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem and it’s the newest title from Nextbook Press. Dauber joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss the real-life milkman behind Tevye, how it was that Sholem Aleichem reached epic levels of adoration, and his unforgettable humorous prose. [Running time: 22:20.]
Your browser does not support the audio element.
- Vox TabletSo Long, FarewellAfter 11 years and 500 episodes, Vox Tablet signs off for good
- Vox TabletTanya’s StoryHow a young woman learned the painful lesson that there are times when trying to do what’s ‘right’ can go very, very wrong
- Vox TabletA New Kind of Prayer BookThe Conservative movement’s latest siddur goes way beyond traditional liturgy
- Vox TabletHey, Mister DJ: Put a (Diaspora-Blending, Genre-Bending) Record OnBooty-shaking new music from A-Wa, Sandaraa, and Schizophonia
- Vox TabletWhat’s Free Will Got To Do With It?Especially in election season, we love talking about the moral fiber (or lack thereof) of our candidates. But when it comes to ethics, no man—or woman—is an island.
- Vox TabletBuilders of a New JerusalemIn a new book, Adina Hoffman brings to life three architects who transformed the city in the days of the British Mandate
- Vox TabletBathe in the WatersA radio documentary asks: Is there a way for women to dunk ritually that doesn’t conflict with their feminism?
- Vox TabletBeyond DrakeA handful of personalities come to mind when we think of African-American Jews. Let’s change that.
- Vox TabletThe Saddlemaker, the Schindler, and the Miller of WlodowaGolems, messiahs, tradesmen, Nazis, and townspeople converge in the story collection ‘In the Land of Armadillos’
- Vox TabletA Year of FirstsAn audio portrait of Luzer Twersky, just after he quit his life as a Hasid, and long before he played one in films
- Vox TabletFor the Love of Suzie Louise: A Christmas StoryIn middle-century Skokie, a young Jewish boy searches for a stolen Jesus to comfort his bereft Christian girlfriend
- Vox TabletThe Most Haunted Leading ManIn ‘Son of Saul,’ actor Géza Röhrig defies our every expectation of a Holocaust movie hero
- Vox TabletGirlhood, InterruptedCynthia Kaplan Shamash fled Iraq 40-odd years ago, when she was just a kid. Her flight foreshadowed that of young refugees fleeing Syria now. Where did she land? Where will they?
- Vox TabletLet ‘Freedom’ Ring: A Flutist Gives Life to Musical Celebrations of LiberationsMimi Stillman’s new album features works inspired by upheaval in Europe and the Middle East
- Vox TabletPuzzle MasterFor years, scholars dismissed the Arabic on text fragments from Cairo’s genizah as unimportant scribbling. Then along came Marina Rustow, bona fide ‘genius.’
- Vox TabletMy Grandfather, the Secret PolicemanRita Gabis knew only that her mother’s Catholic family came from Lithuania after the Holocaust. Then she started asking hard questions.
- Vox TabletBeyond the PulpitWhat does a rabbi do in late August when he no longer needs to prep for High Holidays?
- Vox TabletAndré Aciman, Sarah Wildman, and Others Build a Summer Reading ListLooking for a good book to sink into at the beach in these waning dog days? Friends share what they’ve loved lately.