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Becoming Sholem Asch, a presentation by David Mazower
Becoming Sholem Asch is an illustrated talk by his great-grandson, Yiddish Book Center bibliographer David Mazower.
A yeshiva student who became a provocative dramatist, bestselling novelist, and embattled prophet, Sholem Asch was Yiddish literature’s first modern celebrity. One of the best-known Jewish public figures for over half a century, Asch’s writings included bestsellers in English translation, and smash hits on the Yiddish stages of Warsaw and New York. His 1907 play God of Vengeance resulted in a famed obscenity trial in New York and has inspired many adaptations and reworkings, including Paula Vogel’s recent hit Indecent. This lecture by Asch’s great-grandson will put his career as a playwright in the wider context of his life and work, charting his migrations from Poland to America, France, England, and finally Israel. Theater posters, stage stills, and a wide variety of other images will be combined with unseen photos from family albums, showing the private face of this most public figure.
Register in advance for this event, which is presented by the Yiddish Book Center in conjunction with the Yiddish Theatre Ensemble’s 2021 online production of God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch translated by Caraid O’Brien. The theatre production is a fiscally- sponsored project of KlezCalifornia. The talk is co-presented by KlezCalifornia, Tenement Museum, Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, and Jewish Community Library.
David Mazower is the Yiddish Book Center’s Bibliographer and Editorial Director and a co-editor of Pakn Treger, the Yiddish Book Center’s English-language magazine. He is the author of Yiddish Theatre in London and has published widely on Yiddish culture and book publishing, British Jewish history and Jewish art. He is the great-grandson of Sholem Asch, contributed to the volume Sholem Asch Reconsidered, and has written several articles about Asch for the Digital Yiddish Theater Project. He is also closely involved with the biennial Szalom Asz Festival in Kutno, Poland.