Bennett Muraskin’s guides to Yiddish literature

Bennett Muraskin’s guides to Yiddish literature

Bennett Muraskin is devoted to keeping Yiddish culture alive. “People, especially Jews, really enjoy and profit from reading Yiddish literature in translation,” he said.

To that end, in 2011 he published “The Association of Jewish Libraries Guide to Yiddish Short Stories,” which summarizes and categorizes 130 translated Yiddish short stories.

“This is a way for people to have access to the Yiddish short stories, based on topics and holidays, instead of going to the library and picking up an anthology and leafing through it to find a story that might be appropriate for the occasion,” he said.

“I saw an opportunity to fill what was a pretty big gap in Yiddish literature in English translation: the lack of any kind of sourcebook.

“If we’re going to keep Yiddish culture alive, these books need to be read,” he said.

And he wants you to be aware of a big milestone coming up in two weeks. May 13 marks the 100th anniversary of Sholem Aleichem’s death.

“He was the most famous Yiddish writer who ever lived, and the most translated,” Mr. Muraskin noted.

So what Sholem Aleichem work would he recommend reading to mark the occasion?

“The Adventures of Mottel, the Cantor’s Son,” he said. “I think it is the best thing he ever wrote. It’s the last book he wrote. It’s about the whole immigrant experience through the eyes of this little nine-year-old mischief maker, as he and his family leave the shtetl, make their way from country to country, finally travel on the steamship that takes them to New York, and then getting adjusted to the new life.

“It’s a fantastic book for children and adults alike. I read it to my daughter. She loved it. When it ended without an ending — because Sholem Aleichem died while writing it — she cried.”

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