The Book of Beggars
Date: January 2016
Duration: 7 hours 58 minutes
Mendele Mocher Sforim (Literary name for Shalom Jacob Abramovitsch) (1835 - 1917, b. Kapulye, Belorussia), one of the first modern Jewish writers, wrote in both Hebrew and Yiddish throughout his career. In his work he described with sharp satirical criticism the traditional life in small Jewish towns, as well as tendencies for assimilation of learned Jews at the time. He was regarded as the "grandfather of Yiddish literature," but the Hebraic-Zionist atmosphere in Odessa influenced him, and in 1886 he turned to writing Hebrew fiction.
The Book of Beggars, or Fishke the Lame, was one of the first romances written in Hebrew in Eastern Europe. It was published in Yiddish in 1869 and later translated into Hebrew by the author. Mendeli used a satirical style mixed with tears and compassion to describe Jews of the lowest classes in small poor communities in Eastern Europe of the second half of the 19th century, organized to look for food and charity. This was the background for an entangled story of theft, rape and sentimental love, with an emphasis on suffering and hardships of women. (Summary by Omri Lernau)