The Yiddish Book Center's

Wexler Oral History Project

A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity.

"Read a Merry Story and Remember Me with Laugher": On Sholem Aleichem's Yortsayt

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Bel and Sherwin Kaufman, grandchildren of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, discuss the history behind Sholem Aleichem's annual yortsayt (death anniversary). The siblings explain Sholem Aleichem's ethical will in which he requests his family to read his stories and remember him with laughter.

This is an excerpt from an oral history with Sherwin Kaufman and Bel Kaufman.

This excerpt is in English.

Sherwin Kaufman was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1920. Sherwin died in 2019.

Bel Kaufman was born in Berlin, Germany in 1911. Bel died in 2014.