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Sholom Aleichem Attuned to Contemporary Concerns, According to New Study at Yeshiva U

Although the material for “Fiddler on the Roof” and much of his other works were based on 19th Century Eastern European life, Sholom Aleichem has earned a place among the world’s great writers due to the timelessness and universality of his themes, according to a study completed at Yeshiva University. The study is considered to be the first comprehensive critical treatment in English of the writer, and was completed as a doctoral dissertation by Dr. Lillian Heimowitz at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Heimowitz, of Riverdale, N.Y., said that Sholom Aleichem’s appeal to today’s audiences can be attributed to the writer’s concern with such contemporary issues as the generation gap, the conflict between parent and child, the need for purposeful application of affluence, the relationship between Christian and Jew, and the problems of the depressed and deprived. Dr. Heimowitz recounts, too, Sholom Aleichem’s optimism and courage, which permeates his writings, despite the author’s failing health and personal tragedies. The “Tevya” stories, now familiar to all the world through the success of “Fiddler on the Roof,” reflect much of the suffering of the author and his family, and also what Dr. Heimowitz considers a “remarkable manifestation” of a religious faith which conceives of a dialogue between man and God, man and his fellow man, and man and beast. A teacher of English in New York City’s public schools. Dr. Heimowitz has served as chairman of the School Committee at the Riverdale Temple and a member of the Religious Education Committee of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

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