Sholem Aleichem was one of the most beloved writers of Yiddish literature in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Sholem Aleichem was a prolific writer. He wrote six novels between 1884 and 1890 alone. He wrote romantic novels and political ones. (He was affiliated with the burgeoning Zionist movement, and in 1898, published part of a Zionist novel named Moshiekhs Tsaytn, The Times of the Messiah).In 1894, the same year the first Tevye monologue appeared, Sholem Aleichem published his first full-length play, Yaknehoz. Later plays included a stage version of his romantic novel Stempenyu, produced during his disappointing residence in New York, and Di Goldgreber (The Gold Diggers), which he wrote in Berlin after leaving New York.
Sholem Aleichem was not just a writer of Yiddish fiction. He was also one of its most devoted advocates. In the late 1880s, Sholem Aleichem founded (and funded) Di Yidishe Folksbibliotek, an annual journal that published the works of most of the important writers of the period, including Mendele Mokher Seforim and I.L. Peretz. He brought prominence to Yiddish writing that would have been unfathomable to his literary ancestors.
Sholem Aleichem died in New York on May 13, 1916. For many years, his readership continued to grow, particularly through the Hebrew translations composed by his son-in-law, Y.D. Berkowitz. Sholem Aleichem, named after a ubiquitous Jewish greeting, had become--and perhaps still is--the ubiquitous name of Jewish literature.
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