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The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of Sholem Aleichem
Oct 17 2013

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013 | 7pm
Jonathan Brent, Executive Director, YIVO; Jeremy Dauber, Columbia University; Adam Kirsch, The New Republic (Moderator)

Click HERE to watch the video.

Novelist, playwright, journalist, essayist, and editor, Sholem Aleichem was one of the founding giants of modern Yiddish literature. The creator of a pantheon of extraordinary characters, his literature provided readers with a window into the world of Eastern European Jews as they confronted the forces of modernity that tore through Russia at the end of the 19th century. But just as compelling as the fictional lives of his characters, was Sholem Aleichem's own life story. Born Sholem Rabinovitch in Ukraine in 1859, he endured an impoverished childhood, married into wealth, and then lost it all through bad luck and worse business sense. Turning to his pen to support himself, he switched from writing in Russian and Hebrew to Yiddish in order to create a living body of literature for the Jewish masses. Jonathan Brent, Executive Director at YIVO, Jeremy Dauber, author of the recently published book, The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye, and Adam Kirsch joined each other on stage for a lively discussion about the fascinating life and work of the "Jewish Mark Twain.”

Jonathan Brent is the Executive Director of the YIVO Institute. Brent founded the internationally acclaimed Annals of Communism series at Yale University Press and significantly expanded Yale’s publications in Jewish studies, acquiring titles such as The New Yiddish Library. Brent is also visiting professor of Russian History and Literature at Bard College and lectures widely on Jewish, Soviet and East European history. His books include Stalin’s Last Crime (2003) and Inside the Stalin Archives (2008). He is currently writing a study of the Russian Jewish writer, Isaac Babel.

Jeremy Dauber is a professor of Yiddish literature at Columbia University, where he also serves as director of its Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies and teaches in the American Studies program. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his doctorate from the University of Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. His previous books include In the Demon's Bedroom: Yiddish Literature and the Early Modern (2010) and Antonio's Devils: Writers of the Jewish Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature (2004). He frequently lectures on topics related to Jewish literature, history, humor, and popular culture at the 92nd Street Y and other venues throughout the United States.

Adam Kirsch (Moderator) is a senior editor at The New Republic, a columnist for Tablet Magazine and has written for The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. He is the author of The Thousand Wells (2002), The Wounded Surgeon: Confession and Transformation in Six American Poets (2005), Invasions: New Poems (2008), The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry (2008) and Benjamin Disraeli (2008). His most recent book is Why Trilling Matters (2011).