About Sholem Aleichem
Tevye "tells" Sholem Aleichem his tale.
Sholem Aleichem literally means ‘peace be upon you’ or, colloquially, ‘how do you do’. It was the pen name chosen by Solomon Rabinovich. Rabinovich chose to write for the Jewish common-man, in Yiddish, their mother tongue. He took the pen name, because he did not want to disappoint his father, who would have preferred his son write in the more formal languages of Russian or Hebrew.
Rabinovich grew up and lived in a number of different shtetls in the Pale of Settlement, the area of Western Russia/Eastern Europe where the Jewish population was permitted to live under Russian law.
As a child, Rabinovich suffered many hardships, including his family’s impoverishment, the passing of his mother from cholera, and his father’s second marriage to a woman who the young Rabinovich disliked. Later, even though he was popular as a writer, he suffered from financial hardships. His stories often feature autobiographical details and plots.
Sholem Aleichem writes for and about the Jewish community, his community— their struggles, tribulations, and challenges. The stories are often tragic but told with the resiliency of humor. Sholem Aleichem touches the very heart of life for the Jewish community at the turn of the century; a people dealing with emigration, assimilation, anti-semitism, and financial hardships, but also their endurance in the face of adversity, their ways of coping with the changing world. Their tales tell of a time and place, but their resilience in the face of adversity, their ways of coping with the changing world make them universal and timeless.
You can also download the stories here.