Letter to “Uncle Dinezon”

by Sholem Aleichem

From Dos Sholem-Aleykhem Bukh
(The Sholem Aleichem Book)
I. D. Berkowitz, editor
New York: Ikuf, 1958, Pages 230–231
(See Yiddish Version Here)
Translated from the Yiddish by
Miri Koral


This letter was written after the Warsaw “Jubilee Committee,” in which Dinezon was amongst the most active, purchased Sholem Aleichem’s work from the various publishers and conveyed them to Sholem Aleichem as a gift for his anniversary. Mrs. S. A., who was called by the Committee to Warsaw to help settle the accounts with the publishers, returned to Nervi at that time and brought gifts from Dinezon: stationery and tea.

Nervi, March 27, 1909

Dear, good, beloved Jacob Dinezon!

Do you recognize this paper? It’s yours. There is, thank God, also paper in Italy. Dinezon’s paper, however, is not quite the same. There is also tea in Italy. For money, one can buy anything. Dinezon’s tea, however, has a totally different flavor. We drank Dinezon’s tea yesterday with all the children around the table. Little Tamara was also present. She is not acquainted with Uncle Dinezon yet. But she will soon know that somewhere in a city called Warsaw, on Dzielna Street, a slight, slender, pale person with small but clean little hands, with a whitish little beard—it once was reddish—with kindly, always smiling eyes even when moist with tears. Always clean and neatly dressed, his little boots shining, smoking his own wee cigarettes with his little curling fingers, drinking his own tea brewed from his own little teapot, and always sitting on the same chair at the table, where he keeps hidden an endless array of secrets, troubles, and hurts from all the strangers for whom he has given away a piece of his uncommonly big heart. And this good uncle is named Uncle Dinezon . . .

From this, you must understand that we now have a guest—you already know who this guest is. If I would wish, for example, to express to you one-hundredth of what my heart feels towards you, I know this would be the greatest profanation. If I am destined to live a few years more than I had reckoned, I will be able to say without a doubt that for this, you are responsible, you and all the rest of my friends who have done so much with regard to carrying out your idea of the “Redemption of Jewish Prisoners.”[1] My expression of thanks I will put off until I am in Warsaw in a better state of health. Meanwhile, I just want to convey to you my regards and a brotherly kiss from me and from all of mine, those that you know and those that you don’t yet know.

Your Sholem Aleichem

[1] Referring to the redemption or buying out of Sholom Aleichem’s copyrights from his publishers.
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