Mendele Moykher Sforim

or Mendele Mokher Sefarim orig. Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh
(Yiddish; "Mendele the Book Peddler")

born Nov. 20, 1835, Kopyl, near Minsk, Russia
died Dec. 8, 1917, Odessa

Russian author.

He lived much of his life in Ukraine, becoming a rabbi and head of a traditional school (Talmud Torah) at Odessa. His stories, written with lively humour and gentle satire, are invaluable in the study of Jewish life in Eastern Europe at the time when its traditional structure was giving way. His greatest work is The Travels and Adventures of Benjamin the Third (1875), a panorama of Jewish life in Russia. He is considered the founder of both modern Yiddish and modern Hebrew narrative literature and the creator of modern literary Yiddish.

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▪ Russian-Jewish author
Moykher also spelled  Mokher  or  Mocher , Sforim also spelled  Seforim  or  Sefarim , pseudonym of  Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh 
born Nov. 20, 1835, Kopyl, near Minsk, Russia [now in Belarus]
died Dec. 8, 1917, Odessa [now in Ukraine]

      Jewish author, founder of both modern Yiddish and modern Hebrew (Hebrew language) narrative literature and the creator of modern literary Yiddish. He adopted his pseudonym, which means “Mendele the Itinerant Bookseller,” in 1879.

      Mendele published his first article, on the reform of Jewish education, in the first volume of the first Hebrew weekly, ha-Maggid (1856). He lived from 1858 to 1869 at Berdichev in the Ukraine, where he began to write fiction. One of his short stories was published in 1863, and his major novel ha-Avot ve-ha-banim (“Fathers and Sons”) appeared in 1868, both in Hebrew. In Yiddish he published a short novel, Dos kleyne mentshele (1864; “The Little Man”; Eng. trans. The Parasite), in the Yiddish periodical Kol mevaser (“The Herald”), which was itself founded at Mendele's suggestion. He also adapted into Hebrew H.O. Lenz's Gemeinnützige Naturgeschichte, 3 vol. (1862–72).

      Disgusted with the woodenness of the Hebrew literary style of his time, which closely imitated that of the Bible, Mendele for a time concentrated on writing stories and plays of social satire in Yiddish. His greatest work, Kitsur massous Binyomin hashlishi (1875; The Travels and Adventures of Benjamin the Third), is a kind of Jewish Don Quixote. After living from 1869 to 1881 in Zhitomir (where he was trained as a rabbi), he became head of a traditional school for boys (Talmud Torah) at Odessa and was the leading personality (known as “Grandfather Mendele”) of the emerging literary movement. In 1886 he again published a story in Hebrew (in the first Hebrew daily newspaper, ha-Yom [“Today”]), but in a new style that was a mixture of all previous periods of Hebrew. While continuing to write in Yiddish, he gradually rewrote most of his earlier Yiddish works in Hebrew. His stories, written with lively humour and sometimes biting satire, are an invaluable source for studying Jewish life in eastern Europe at the time when its traditional structure was giving way.

Additional Reading
David Aberbach, Realism, Caricature, and Bias: The Fiction of Mendele Mocher Sefarim (1993); Theodore L. Steinberg, Mendele Mocher Seforim (1977).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mendele Moykher Sforim — o Mendele Mokher Sefarim orig. Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (yídish; Mendele el vendedor de libros ) (20 nov. 1835, Kopyl, cerca de Minsk, Rusia–8 dic. 1917, Odessa). Autor ruso. Vivió gran parte de su vida en Ucrania, se hizo rabino y fue director… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mendele Mocher Sforim — (also Moykher, also Sfarim, מענדעלע מוכר ספֿרים), December 21, 1835 (O.S.) = January 2, 1836 (N.S.), Kapyl November 25, 1917 (O.S.) = December 8, 1917 (N.S.). Mendele the book peddler, is the pseudonym of Sholem Yankev Abramovich, שלום יעקב… …   Wikipedia

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  • Mendele — (as used in expressions) Mendele Moykher Sforim Mendele Mokher Sefarim Mendele the Book Peddler * * * …   Universalium

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  • ABRAMOVITSH, SHOLEM YANKEV — (Jacob, also Mendele Moykher Sforim; 1835 or 1836–1917), Hebrew and Yiddish writer, often called the grandfather of modern Judaic literature. Abramovitsh was born in Kapulia (Kopyl), near Minsk; he lived in Berdichev from 1858 to 1869 and… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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  • SHALOM ALEICHEM — (Sholem Aleykhem; narrative persona and subsequent pseudonym of Sholem Rabinovitsh (Rabinovitz); 1859–1916), Yiddish prose writer and humorist born on February 18, 1859 (old style; March 2, new style), in Pereyaslav (today: Pereyaslav… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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