Sholem Aleichem, Agnon!
Join R. Jeffrey Saks for a 3-part series exploring connections between Jewish literature’s greatest Yiddish author and its greatest Hebrew author. What do Sholem Aleichem and S.Y. Agnon have to say about Judaism’s transition into modernity, the condition of faith, the plight of poverty, and so much more? What do these great authors, and Tevya the Dairyman and Reb Yudel Hasid, have to say to each other – and to us?
Sholem Aleichem, Agnon!: If I Were a Rich Man…
In our opening session we’ll explore the famous musical, rhetorical question: “If I Were a Rich Man?” and the treatment of poverty, and dreams of wealth, by comparing Sholem Aleichem’s 1902 Yiddish short story “Ven Ikh Bin Roytshild” (“If I Were Rothschild”; available here in English) and S.Y. Agnon’s 1963 Hebrew tale, “Mazalo shel Rothschild” (“Rothschild’s Luck” in The Outcast).
Sholem Aleichem, Agnon!: Tradition!
Sholem Aleichem, Agnon!: Sunrise, Sunset
For our final session we’ll look at different depictions of childhood in Sholem Aleichem and Agnon, recalling that musical question, “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older — when did they?”
You can take a look at two short holiday stories by Sholem Aleichem: “The Simchas Torah Flag” and “The Esrog” and compare them to Agnon’s “The Kerchief.” You can also look at Agnon’s own depiction of an etrog story, albeit not a children’s tale, in “The Etrog” (click on story titles to access the texts).
Explore Jewish life, literature, and learning on our tour of Prague, Vienna, and Budapest (June 12-21,2020). Details at www.agnonhouse.org.il/summer2020
Rabbi Jeffrey Saks is the founding director of ATID – The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, in Jerusalem, and its WebYeshiva.org program. He is the Editor of the journal Tradition, Series Editor of The S.Y. Agnon Library at The Toby Press, and Director of Research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem. A three-time graduate of Yeshiva University (BA, MA, Semicha), Rabbi Saks has published widely on Jewish thought, education, and literature (see www.webyeshiva.org/rabbisaks).