The Further Adventures of Menachem-Mendl by Sholem Aleichem, Aliza Shevrin
Menachem-Mendl is one of Sholem Aleichem's most delightful literary creations, a dreamy optimist who travels to New York and across Eastern Europe in search of an elusive fortune at the approach of World War I. His wife, Sheyne Sheyndl, and children are left behind in the shtetl of Kasrilevka. Written in 1913 and previously unpublished in the United States, The Further Adventures of Menachem-Mendl consists of Menachem-Mendl's letters home and his wife's often tart replies. Working for Yiddish newspapers, Menachem-Mendl writes his opinions of world events and Jewish problems. Through the eyes of this shrewd small town Jew we see events leading to a cataclysmic war, which include his uncannily familiar treatment of conflicts in the Balkans. Menachem-Mendl describes the Zionist Congress in Vienna with Sholem Aleichem's inimitable humor, exaggeration, and realism. In her replies to her husband, Sheyne Sheyndl reminds him that his family grapples with crushing poverty and persecution. Aliza Shevrin's fluid translation captures the idiomatic richness of the original Yiddish and brings Sholem Aleichem's vanished culture to vibrant life.