A Sholem Aleichem Story for the First Night of Passover

March 24 2021

In 1903, the great master of Yiddish fiction Shlomo Rabinovich—better known by his pen name, Sholem Aleichem—published the novel Moshkeleh Ganev (“Moshe the Thief”) in serial form in a Yiddish newspaper. Curt Leviant describes the book, which he recently translated into English:

Prior to Moshkeleh Ganev, Sholem Aleichem had never devoted a full-length work to the Jewish underclass. In fact, it was a first for Yiddish literature, with its riveting plot about a rowdy, uneducated horse thief who falls in love with the flirtatious daughter of a tavern keeper. Sholem Aleichem’s commitment to capturing their world and their language was plain from the outset.

Although Sholem Aleichem could not have known it, his great contemporary Anton Chekhov praised precisely this kind of realism when, a few years earlier, he wrote to a friend, “To depict horse thieves in 700 lines, I must all the time speak and think in their tone and feel in their spirit.” But, of course, he is just as convincing (and comical) in depicting Jews shopping for their Passover wine or the seder of a drunken tavern keeper.

That is the theme of the excerpted passage at the link below, which begins thus:

Throughout the year, Chaim Chosid’s wine cellar is open to the town worthies. But on the eve of Passover, Chaim and his entire family, including the wine cellar and all its wine, are held in bondage to the Children of Israel in [the shtetl of] Mazepevke.

To get a sense of what happened at the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, please come down to Chaim Chosid’s cellar when the Mazepevke Jews buy wine for the four cups of the seder.

All year long, Jews manage to survive, thank God, without wine. They make kiddush over challah and drink water from the stream. But with the approach of Passover, they get spoiled and pampered. They prepare themselves to become kings at the seder, as tradition prescribes. Now they think they’re sophisticated connoisseurs and experts in wines.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Passover, Sholem Aleichem, Yiddish literature

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy