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Tevye the Dairyman and Railroad Stories


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About the Author

Hillel Halkin is an award-winning translator and a writer whose most recent work is Across the Sabbath River: In Search of a Lost Tribe of Israel.


With his supple, intelligent translation, Halkin makes accessible the poignant short stories by the legendary Yiddish humorist Sholem Rabinovich (18591916), who wrote under the nom de plume ``Sholem Aleichem,'' a Yiddish salutation. As Halkin elucidates in his introduction, Tevye's self-mocking but deeply affecting monologues (which inspired the play and film Fiddler on the Roof satisfy on several levels: as a psychological analysis of a father's love for his daughters, despite the disappointments they bring him; as a paradigm of the tribulations and resilience of Russian Jewry and the disintegration of shtetl life at the twilight of the Czarist Empire; and as a Job-like theological debate with God. The 20 Railroad Storiesthe monologues of a traveling salesman and his fellow Jewish travelersdepict Jewish thieves and arsonists, feuding spouses, draft evaders, grieving parents and assimilationists. Like the eight Tevye tales, these unprettified stories of simple people and their harsh realities summon a bygone era, but their appeal and application are timeless. Bringing both groups of tales together for the first time in English, this first volume in Schocken's Library of Yiddish Classics series is an auspicious event. (July)

"This fresh translation is likely to serve as the indispensable Sholem Aleichem for some time to come." --Cynthia Ozick

"The editor and translator have done brilliantly." --Saul Bellow "A body of work that is very much alive and that continues to dazzle us with its brilliance, wit, and humanity." --Leonard Nimoy

Gr 7 Up‘These three cassettes contain six Sholem Aleichem stories (one per side) about Tevye, the irrepressible character made familiar by Fiddler on the Roof. If listeners absorb them in order, the story of Tevye and his family unfolds chronologically, covering a period of several years. The author's use of language paints pictures which enable listeners to see rural Russia at the turn of the century. They also get a taste for what it meant to be a Jew in that time and place. Even though many of the anecdotes are humorous in nature, the issues are serious and include courting and marriage customs, dress and food, and persecution of Jews (pogroms and expulsions). Theodore Bikel is the perfect choice as storyteller, and not only because he has portrayed Tevye on the stage. His resonant voice and acting ability add to the portrayal of Tevye and other characters. By slight changes in inflection, Bikel brings every character to life, male or female. His reading includes the explanation of all Hebrew and Yiddish phrases, so even listeners unfamiliar with Jewish culture and history can follow the story. Libraries with audiobooks in their collections will want to add this abridgment of the Sholem Aleichem stories.-Shelley Glantz, Arlington High School, MA

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