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June 21, 1985 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, June 21, 1985

E
AEI F2217
RESUITS •

MARC
ANKERMAN

bruce m. weiss

.

Disc Jockey

Jewelers
26325 Twelve Mile Rd.

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Behind Gabe's Fruits
In The Mayfair Shops

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36

;:1\13/110 ,
THE 11E-TROIT JEWISH NEWS

Sholom Aleichem

Continued from Page 2

noted Jewish writers. Now Curt
Leviant assumes that role.
From the Fair therefore gains
its due place among the best of
Sholom Aleichem in the Leviant
translation.
This newest and very
entertaining Sholom Aleichem
story has many aspects of great
significance. It was written as a
novel, but it is also nostalgic as
history of the Jewish com-
munities in Russia. Much has
been written about the shtetl,
yet the second chapter in this
autobiographical account pro-
vides so much charm in the de-
scription of the shtetl that it
supersedes the previous por-
trayals.
Jews and non-Jews, the poor
and the affluent, are depicted in
Sholom's — as he is henceforth
to be referred to since the story
of the third person is about him
— in the eminent author's na-
tive town of Voronko.
There is much of the nostalgic
in the self-revealed account in
the life of Sholom Aleichem, and
in providing the record the
author told of his many experi-
ences, his career as a teacher
guiding those preparing for
exams to enter the gymnasia
and universities in Russia.
While relating the tale the
reader learns about the Russian
influences, the restrictions and
the attained opportunities, the
Krylov fairy tales and many
other experiences of Jews in the
years before the Revolution and
the wars.
There are such interesting ac-
counts as a description of the
opportunity that was provided
for Sholom Aleichem to become
a Government Rabbi, known
under the title of Kazonyi Rab-
bin, a post that was assigned for
a Jewish selectee to keep the
Jewish community records for
the government. There is a
hilarious account of the chican-
ery, the low-level politics that
were resorted to by candidates
for that post. Therefore, Sholom
rejected it.
Having been granted prefer-
ence for the Government Rabbi
post, upon exposing the cheap
politics in the competition and
quest for it, Sholom Aleichem,
in the item entitled "The Elec-
tions," affirmed:
"There was one thing Sholom
could not understand: why
should a crown rabbi be a
hypocrite and a bootlicker of the
rich and a lackey of the gov-
ernment? Sholom promised that
he would not be like that! He
would not be a crown rabbi like
all the others. What he wanted
to be was a mentch!"
Life's trials and tribulations
included the shivah week when
Sholom's mother died. It is a re-
vealing account which will
arouse many reminiscences
among the many readers, with
the woes, the tears, the hidden
humor, even the tragic situa-
tions, and the comforting ac-
companied by the low-toned
voices as visitors left the shivah
home.
Most hilarious in the book is a
lexicon of invectives. Sholom
Aleichem's father, Reb Nochem,

remarried. The stepmother was
a criticizing woman, constantly
needling Sholom, resorting to
insults and abuses galore. That
inspired him to compile a dic-
tionary of her invectives. He
wrote it alphabetically. He pun-
ned and recorded. The entire
lexicon would create an evening
of hilarity for those gathering to
read it. Resorting to some at
random, here is a sample of the
compiled invectives:
A — abusive, addlepate,
aggravator, animal, ape,

There is much of the
nostalgic in the
self-revealed account
in the life of Sholom
Aleichem .. .

apostate, argumentative, ass
B — backscratcher, bandit,
bathhouse flunky, beggar,
boaster, broom, bum

F — failure, faithless,
fathead, flea, fool, fresh brat
K — kennel-keeper, kicker,
kill-joy, knave, knothole,
knuckle-head
M — malingerer, measly,
meddling, milksop, misfor-
tune, monkey, mummer,
murderer
O — oaf, obnoxious, obsta-
cle, obstinate, oddball, off-
beat, opinionated, outlandish
R
radish, ragamuffin,
raggedy, rambunctious, ras-
cal, rattlebrain, reeking, re-
probate, robber, rusty
U — ugly, ulcer, ululant,
unclean, uncouth, unthink-
ing, upstart, usurper
— xanthic, xenophobic,
xeric, Xerxes, xyster
Z
zany, zealot, zebra,
zero, zigzag, zombie,
zookeeper, zwieback
But it is not all negative and
destructive. Sholom's father and
his stepmother derive as much
fun from it as the lexiconic com-
piler.
Therefore, it is most interest-
ing to add the explanatory with
which Sholom concludes the
alphabetical account containing
the explanation of the elders'
reactions to the collected curses
and invectives:
This was the future Sholom
Aleichem's first work, and he
called it A Stepmother's Invec-
tive. What happened with it
could have led to a terrible
catastrophe.
Because of its strict alpha-
betical format, the writer
took pains to rewrite this lex-
icon several times. Father
evidently noted that his ras-
cal seemed to be unusually
busy. One evening he came
up behind Sholom, looked at
his work and confiscated the
manuscript, which he read
from A to Z. Not enough that
he read it himself, he also
read it to Stepmother.
But a miracle occurred. It
was hard to determine if she
was in fleeting good humor
or was just ashamed to show





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