Sholem Aleichem was born Sholem Naumo-vich Rabinovich in 1859 outside the City of Kiev in then Imperial Russia. A writer of short stories, plays and novels Aleichem is best known for his Yiddish stories told with humor and compassion about Eastern European Jews.
One story about Tevye the Milkman was made into the successful musical, Fiddler on the Roof. Aleichem died in New York in 1916. Many refer to him as the Jewish Mark Twain. We, who know better, refer to Mark Twain as the Gentile Sholem Aleichem.
During his lifetime, Aleichem, a prolific writer who turned out a short story per week, never realized the fame he sought when he sought his fortune in America. However, his legacy lives on in a new movie - Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness.
Shalom, Sholem: Sholem, there have been a few changes in the world since you were here. What do you think of mobile technology?
SHOLEM ALEICHEM: Gossip is nature's telephone.
Times are hard. The nation is split in half. Any advice for how to cope?
No matter how bad things get, you got to go on living, even if it kills you.
Any other thoughts on coping in general?
Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.
What do you think of today’s politicians?
As if that weren’t enough, our hero is unlucky in his occupation. He’s a traveling salesman and it’s part of his job to be friendly. He has to talk a lot, and in his business it’s important that he should not just talk, but that he should be heard, and not just be heard, but above all be seen. In short, he’s a sorry creature. (Two Anti-Semites)
How Democrats view Republicans?
The wealthy do not give and you have to pluck it out of their teeth. (A Passover Expropriation)
How Republicans view Democrats?
There is no man with-out his burden. (Haunted Tailor)
If you’re meant to strike it rich, you may as well stay home with your slippers on, because good luck will find you there. (Tevye Strikes it Rich)
And politics in general?
Rather the bite of a friend than the kiss of an enemy.
How opponents will describe each other in the next debate?
A gadabout, a wastre, a faker, a worthless vagabond, may he never stand still in one place. (The Bubble Bursts, Tevye’s Daughters, 1949, 1977).
In other words?
You're a cheek, insolent, impudent, impertinent illiterate. (Railroad Stories, Competitors)
And what do Republicans and Democrats really think of each other. Let’s try to be bipartisan here?
He shouldn't live to cross his own threshold; he should die a hundred times from a fire, from a fever, from an earthquake, from a plague, from an ill wind that carries him away! He should croak! He should burst! He should dry up like a puddle! He should swell like a dead fish!" (Railroad Stories, Competitors)
How would you advise the people trying to find sanity in an absurd world?
Life is a blister on top of a tumor and a boil on top of that.
In other words?
You can’t ride one ass to two fairs. (The Railroad Stories, Competitors)
If one doesn’t go into politics what’s a good second choice?
Lawyers are just like physicians: what one says, the other contradicts.
Equality among the sexes?
The best marriage is the worst death.
And what did your wife say?
May he get five ulcers in his stomach (Railroad Stories, Competitors)
What's your take on psychiatry?
I was foolish enough to butt in on a married couple in order to make up between them, the outcome of which was that I took it on the chin from my own wife (Railroad Stories, Competitors)
There's no pleasing everyone. It’s hopeless even to try, and the more you play the peacemaker, the less peaceful things become. (Railroad Stories, Competitors)
What best distinguishes man from the four-legged animals?
Without fingers you can't thumb your nose.
Fiddler on the Roof was quite the hit. What happened when you tried a second musical?
A cow flew over the roof and laid an egg.
What’s the best part about being young?
Adam was the luckiest man in the world. He had no mother-in-law.
And the worst part about being young?
A bachelor is a man who comes to work each morning from a different direction.
Well, thanks for taking the time. Shalom, Sholem.