LONDON (Dec. 28)
A sprinkling of non-Jewish Soviet writers and intellectuals joined a gathering of several hundred Jews at the Jewish cemetary in Odessa to observe the 50th anniversary of the death of Mendele Mocher Sforim, the 19th century Russian-Jewish writer who is regarded as the father of modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature. Among those gathered at the graveside, according to reports here from Moscow, were Mendele’s two surviving grandchildren, one of them a professor at the Agricultural Institute of Odessa, and the other the choir-mistress of the local opera company. A valedictory address was given by the Jewish writer and critic, Jeremy Drucker.
Mendele was born Shalom Jacob Abramowitsch in White Russia in 1836. He adopted the pen name. Mendele Mocher Sforim, which is Hebrew for Mendele the book seller. He studied in yeshivot and published his first articles in Hebrew periodicals in 1858 and his first Hebrew short story in 1863. Later he turned to Yiddish in which language his classic stories, “Fishke the Lame,” “The Travels of Benjamin IC” and many others won him fame in Jewish communities all over the world. He collaborated with Bialik and Ravnitzky in translating the Pentateuch into Yiddish. Mendele died in 1917.