Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Jacob Dinezon

From The Abraham Sutzkever-Szmerke Kaczerginski Historical Collection

Series I: Correspondence with individuals, 1836-1941
Sholem Aleichem to Jacob Dinesohn, 1908-1913
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
Translated from the Yiddish by
Mindy Liberman


In late 1908 and early 1909, in celebration of Sholem Aleichem’s 25th anniversary as an author, a committee was formed to raise funds to buy back Sholem Aleichem’s copyrights from the original publishers. Jacob Dinezon’s role on the committee was to facilitate and administer the effort.

In this typewritten Yiddish letter to Jacob Dinezon, Sholem Aleichem relates plans for his wife, Olga, to visit Warsaw as a way of speeding up the transfer of his copyrights.

Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Jacob Dinezon

Letter to J. Dinesohn

Nervi, March 7/8, 1909

Most Dear and Best Friend J. Dinezohn!

You see from the copy that we are doing everything you say. What would happen, for instance, if there was, God forbid, no Dinesohn in Warsaw—I don’t even want to think about it. What would be the point? You are one of a kind!. . . . It seems to me it won’t help at all, and my Olga will have to take a trip to Warsaw. (Even though to be sure, this is a difficult extra for us!) But what should we do? In truth, this is obviously our only small link to the future . . . I can undoubtedly count on your friendship when my wife will be in Warsaw. I believe that Podlishevsky[1], as well as Dr. Levin[2], will work more energetically in my wife’s presence. As for the story about Sh.[3], we are again disappointed and depressed. I have never once received even 500 groschen from him!!! Other than at the time of the agreement, Spektor[4] in Kiev gave me a few hundred rubles as an honorarium. Since then I have absolutely not received even half a groschen from Sh., not seen an accounting, heard nothing about a printing. So you can see very well for yourself that Olga must be in Warsaw without fail, and the sooner, the healthier for all of us. It’s almost Passover, so therefore I ask you to meet with Mr. Podlishevsky and Dr. Levin and let them write soon. I will have no complaints against them unless she, God forbid, won’t accomplish anything with the journey, perish the thought. Write soon!

Yours until the grave—Sholem Aleichem.

[1] Abraham Podlishevsky or Podlishevski (1862-1929) was a Polish writer, editor, and Zionist activist.
[2] Dr. Gershon Levin or Lewin (1868-1939), writer, community leader, and house surgeon for the Jewish hospital in Warsaw.
[3] Possibly Avraham Leib Shalkovich (1866–1921), Hebrew writer and publisher who used the pen name Ben-Avigdor
[4] Mordechai Spector or Mordecai Spector (1858–1925) was a writer and editor who worked with Ben-Avigdor.
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