Media Coverage of Sholem Aleichem Monument

News about Sholem Aleichem’s statue recently unveiled at Tel Aviv University have been published by two major Jewish media sources: Jerusalem Post and the Forward. Below we are reposting the text of the JP’s article:

June 16, 2023

Remembering the Yiddish Literature Great, Sholem Aleichem

■ IT’S DOUBTFUL that anyone outside the world of Yiddish literature has ever heard of Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, but even non-Jews have heard of Sholem Aleichem, which was Rabinovich’s pen name.

Credit: Yuval Yosef

Every now and again there is a big revival of Yiddish. Young people who feel they have missed out on part of their heritage, attend Yiddish classes in various parts of the world, as far removed from each other as Lithuania, Israel and Australia, plus many others. In Israel, in addition to Sholem Aleichem House in Tel Aviv, Yiddish is taught at a number of institutes of higher education and on an informal basis through Yiddishpiel Theater and Yung Yidish.

One of the institutes of higher education that includes Yiddish classes in its curriculum is Tel Aviv University, which earlier this month became the on-campus repository of a bronze, life-size statue of Sholem Aleichem created by sculptor Yury Chernov. Located close to the ANU Museum, it is an all-weather reminder of how much joy and laughter Sholem Aleichem brought not just to thousands of people, but literally to millions across the decades. Fiddler on the Roof is based on his story about his character Tevya the Dairyman. “This is the beginning of a new era,” said Daniel Galay, the chairman of Leyvik House, the Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel.

The commissioning of the statue and its placement was the brainchild of Dr. Mark Zilberquit: a Moscow-based author publisher and founder of the Yiddish Heritage Preservation Foundation, whose goal is to preserve Yiddish language and culture which was the common denominator of the majority of European Jews before the Holocaust.

This foundation was among the donors to the project, as was the Blavatnik family whose foundation engages in international philanthropy – mostly in education and culture – and is well known for its sterling support of London’s Tate Gallery.

In New York, it also founded the Blavatnik Archives which are dedicated to the study of 20th-century Jewish and world history with special emphasis on the World Wars I and II and Soviet Russia.

The Yiddish Heritage and Preservation Foundation has a strong connection with Tel Aviv University and provides scholarships for students studying various aspects of Yiddish culture.

The statue of Sholem Aleichem is part of a pilot project. If all goes well, it may become the nucleus of a Yiddish literature sculpture garden, with statues of figures such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, I.L. Peretz, Avraham Sutzkever, Sholem Asch, Itzik Manger, Kadia Molodowska, Avraham Goldfaden, Esther Kreitman and others.