Download Full Text
Sun, Mar. 21, 2010, 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Wandering Stars by Sholem Aleichem
Facilitated by Kevin Wetmore
Aleichem, the great Yiddish humorist whose Tevye and His Daughters became Fiddler on the Roof, is honored on the 150th anniversary of his birth with a complete translation of this sprawling novel, a panoramic view of the Yiddish theater in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Masterfully translated by Shevrin and including a foreword by Tony Kushner, the novel follows an antic troupe of Yiddish actors traveling from a small town in Bessarabia (present-day Moldova) across Europe to London and finally New York. As the novel opens, Leibel Rafalovitch, the rich man's son, and Reizel Spivak, the poor cantor's daughter, are entranced by a troupe performing in their small town. Enticed away by the promise of stage careers, they are soon separated, with Reizel becoming the concert star Rosa Spivak and Leibel, Leo Rafalesko, a serious stage actor. The colorful lives of the theater performers and the difficulties they face—including anti-Semitism, a lack of money, and matters of love—are even more captivating than what happens on the stage itself. As Leibel says to Reizel while they gaze at the sky above their village, stars don't fall but wander, as do these stalwart theater people.
Yiddish, actors, theater
Aleichem, Sholem, "Wandering Stars" (2010). Jewish Studies Sunday Book & Discussion Group. 15.