Sholem Aleichem’s Encore

May 30, 2013

Did they know he was laughing at them? A museum in Kiev, Ukraine, recently kicked off national observances of the 150th anniversary of the birthday of the legendary Yiddish satire writer Sholem Aleichem –– who made a living gently making fun of gentile peasants and stereotypical Jews in his famous writings.

An exhibition on the Jewish writer, who was born in Ukraine and spent much of his life there, opened at the Kiev Museum of Books, according to the JTA Wire Service. Aleichem –– better known to mama and pappa as Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich –– will have his birthday celebrated on the state level in Ukraine next year.

Not only that, but as part of the ongoing bash, the Sholem Aleichem museum will be opened in Kiev, where the writer wrote his famous works “Tevye the Milkman,” “Menachem-Mendl” and “Railway Stories.” The museum, located not far from where former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was born, will be dedicated to the famous writer and to Yiddish culture, architecture and folklore.

He died in New York in 1916, so he is unlikely to attend. (Although, 18 years ago, who thought totalitarianism would make a comeback in Eastern Europe?)

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