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Museum opening launches Sholom Aleichem commemorations

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — A museum dedicated to Sholom Aleichem and Yiddish culture is opening in Kiev.

The museum will open Monday in the building where he wrote "Tevye the Milkman" as part of the celebrations surrounding the 150th anniversary of the writer’s birthday.

Original manuscripts, portraits, photographs, posters of performances of Sholom Aleichem’s plays and personal belongings will be on display.

“The best commemoration of the great Yiddish writer is promotion and ‘sounding’ of his books and plays in different languages, but first of all in Yiddish," Arkady Monastyrsky, leader of the Jewish Forum of Ukraine, told JTA. "We try to propagate and promote Yiddish in Ukraine and Sholom Aleichem heritage.”

Flowers will be laid at the Sholom Aleichem monument in Kiev. The monument, a bronze statue of the author tipping his hat, was erected in central Kiev in 1997.

The National Bank of Ukraine issued a silver coin and Ukraine issued a jubilee stamp honoring the author.

“The figure of Sholom Aleichem, his literary contribution to the treasury of vivid multi-ethnic culture of Ukraine, is worthy of respect and being commemorated on the highest levels,” said Ivan Vasiunyk, vice prime minister of Ukraine and chairman of the Organizational Committee for preparation and celebration of the 150th anniversary of Sholom Aleichem in Ukraine.

Born in Pereyaslav, in the Kiev area, Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916) was educated in the nearby Voronkov, whose inhabitants were models for the characters of the fictional community Kasrilevke, the settings of many of his stories. He is said to be the first to write children’s literature in Yiddish.

He is best known to many for his stories that formed the basis for the musical “Fiddler on the Roof."

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