Jewish Storyteller Press

Memories and Scenes Cover

Shtetl, Childhood, Writers
Jewish Stories by Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson
Introduction by Scott Hilton Davis

Jacob Dinezon (1851/2?-1919) was one of the most successful Yiddish writers of the late 1800s. Friend and mentor to almost every major Jewish literary figure of his day, including Sholem Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher Sforim), I. L. Peretz, Sholem Aleichem, S. An-ski, and Abraham Goldfaden, Dinezon played a central role in the development of Yiddish as a modern literary language.

A successful novelist in his own right, Jacob Dinezon, like Charles Dickens, championed the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed, especially children. He used his pen to expose the hypocrisy and injustice in shtetl society, and his stories reveal a deep love and commitment to uplifting and enlightening the common Jewish people.

In this collection of eleven autobiographical short stories, Dinezon recalls his childhood years in the shtetl, the unusual and memorable characters he encountered along the way, and the events that led to his passion for becoming a writer. Contained within these stories is a treasure trove of Yiddish history, culture, and values.

Now, for the first time in English, Yiddish translator Tina Lunson places Jacob Dinezon’s stories beside the works of his contemporaries. If, as scholars suggest, Sholem Abramovitsh, I. L. Peretz, and Sholem Aleichem, are the grandfather, father, and grandson of modern Yiddish literature, then surely Jacob Dinezon is the beloved uncle, writing stories filled with Jewish humor, compassion, and love.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-1-4.

Order online here.

Hershele Cover

A Jewish Love Story
By Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler
Introduction by Scott Hilton Davis

“A poignant look at the trials and triumphs of young love in the shtetl. Jacob Dinezon’s lyrical story brings this bygone world to life.” —MAGGIE ANTON, author of Rashi’s Daughters and Rav Hisda’s Daughter

When Hershele, a poor but brilliant yeshiva student, is invited for a weekly charity meal by a rich widow, he comes face-to-face with Mirele, the widow’s pretty, bright, and strong-willed daughter. As the two innocently come to know each other, they fall in love.

Are they bashert—soul mates destined to be together? Or will rigid class differences, shtetl politics, and a ruthless marriage broker tear them apart?

This poignant love story, written in 1891, provides a vivid and insightful exploration of our great-grandparents’ lives in 19th century Eastern Europe: how they lived, how they loved, and how they tried to remain faithful to their Jewish way of life in the face of modern ideas and a changing world.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-7-6.

Order online here.

Yosele Cover

A Story from Jewish Life
By Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Jane Peppler
Foreword by Scott Hilton Davis

Yosele, Jacob Dinezon’s short novel published in 1899, exposed in vivid detail the outmoded and cruel teaching methods prevelant in the traditional cheders (Jewish elementary schools) of the late 1800s.

Writing in Yiddish to reach the broadest Jewish audience, Dinezon described with all the pathos of Charles Dickens, the sad, poverty-stricken life of a bright and gentle school boy whose violent treatment at the hands of his teacher, parents, and society is shocking and painfully heartrending. The outrage that resulted from the story’s initial publication produced an urgent call for reform and set the stage for the beginning of a secular school movement that transformed Jewish elementary education.

This first-time English translation by Jane Peppler presents a rare and vivid picture of Jewish life in Eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. An excellent resource for classes in Jewish Studies, Yiddish literature, and Eastern European History.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-3-8.

Order online here.

The Dark Young Man Cover

The Dark Young Man
By Jacob Dinezon
Translated from the Yiddish by Tina Lunson
Edited and Adapted by Scott Hilton Davis

Jacob Dinezon’s dramatic first novel was published in 1877 and quickly became a runaway bestseller. Considered the first realistic romance written in Yiddish, The Dark Young Man relates the efforts of a ruthless brother-in-law determined to protect his position of power by destroying the reputation of a beloved prospective bridegroom. Yiddish author I. L. Peretz wrote, “Never has such a righteous hatred flamed over all that’s bad and evil as over the Dark Young Man, who, with his intrigues, annihilated a family of blameless souls.”

Set in a suburb of the Russian city of Mohilev in the 1840s, Jacob Dinezon’s poignant tale delves deeply into the personalities and politics of Jewish middle class society, and describes in vivid detail the growing opposition to arranged marriages, the disparities between rich and poor, and the challenges of assimilation and modernity on traditional Jewish life.

A tale of suspense, betrayal, love, and death, Dinezon’s The Dark Young Man is a startling fictional account of mid-nineteenth century Jewish life, culture, and religion by a beloved author and masterful storyteller.

Coming in 2019.

Jacob Dinezon Biography Cover

The Mother Among Our Classic Yiddish Writers
By Shmuel Rozshanski
Translated from the Yiddish by Miri Koral

An insightful and well-documented biography about the beloved and successful 19th century Yiddish author, Jacob Dinezon (1852?-1919), called by the Jewish Daily Forward, “The Greatest Yiddish Writer You Never Heard Of.”

Credited with writing the first “Jewish Realistic Romance” and the first bestselling Yiddish novel, Dinezon was closely associated with the leading Jewish writers of his day, including Sholem Abramovitsh (Mendele Mocher Sforim), Sholem Aleichem, and I. L. Peretz—dubbed the “Classic Writers of Modern Yiddish Literature.”

Dinezon wrote poignant stories about Eastern European shtetl life and focused on the emotional conflicts affecting young people as the modern ideas of the Jewish Enlightenment challenged traditional religious practices and social norms. Frequently, the plight of his characters brought tears to the eyes of his devoted readers.

In this Yiddish biography written in 1956 and translated into English for the first time by Yiddishist Miri Koral, the renowned literary historian Shmuel Rozshanski makes the case for including Jacob Dinezon in the “family” of classic Yiddish writers. Based on his extensive research and review of Dinezon’s major works, Rozshanski concludes that Jacob Dinezon deserves to be recognized as a major figure in the development of Yiddish as a literary language. If, as scholars suggest, Sholem Abramovitsh is the grandfather, I. L. Peretz the father, and Sholem Aleichem the grandson of modern Yiddish literature, then Jacob Dinezon, Rozshanski insists, should be considered the “mother” for his gentle, kindhearted, and emotional approach to storytelling and to his readers.

An important research book for scholars of Yiddish literature, history, and culture.

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-8-3.

Order online here.

Souls Are Flying Cover

A Celebration of Jewish Stories
Retold Stories by Scott Hilton Davis

A collection of twelve short stories based on the writings of beloved Jewish authors, Sholem Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, I. L. Peretz, and Jacob Dinezon.

Collected and retold by storyteller, Scott Hilton Davis, these new adaptations celebrate Jewish heritage, culture, and values. Stories include “Mendele the Book Peddler” by Sholem Abramovitsh, “If I Were Rothschild” and “Elijah the Prophet” by Sholem Aleichem,  “If Not Still Higher” and “Bontshe Shvayg” by I. L. Peretz, and for the first time in English translation, “Motl Farber, Purimshpieler,” “Borekh the Orphan,” and “Mayer Yeke” by Jacob Dinezon.

Written to be read aloud, these Jewish stories from the late nineteenth century will make you laugh, maybe bring a tear to your eye, and fill your heart with the joy of yiddishkayt and Jewish culture. Perfect for Jewish book clubs and religious school classes. A great gift for bar or bat mitzvah, confirmation, or Chanukah!

Published by Jewish Storyteller Press. ISBN 978-0-9798156-9-0.

Order online here.