Irad Ben Isaak

Mendele´s Wishing-Ring


27 August 2019, 7pm

Mendele Moykher-Sforim, source: Wikimedia

The Wishing-Ring (Dos vinshfingrl, 1888) is a coming-of-age novel by Mendele Moykher-Sforim´s (a.k.a. Sholem Yankev Abramovitch), the “grandfather” of both modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature. Mendele Moykher-Sforim considered Dos vinshfingrl to be his most important novel.

It tells the story of a young Jewish boy, Hershele. When Hershele turns 13, just after his Bar Mitsvah, he leaves his shtetl and moves to the big city. There Hershele gets to know the world and himself, and meets his best friend Moyshe. But soon things get harsh: Moyshe is kidnapped to be enlisted in the Russian army. Also the girl that Hershele secretly loves, Beyle, will be kidnapped and forced into prostitution. During the lecture and reading we will raise a number of questions. What does it mean to grow up in a Eastern European Jewish community at the end of the 19th century? How does Dos vinshfigerl adapt and “twist” the Bildungsroman genre? Will Hershele ever see his beloved Moyshe and Beyle again?

The languages of the event will be EN | YI.

Admission free – donations welcome!

Irad Ben Isaak, photo: private

Irad Ben Isaak is a Ph.D. candidate at the Europa-Universität Viadrina and the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies. He is working on his dissertation project titled “A Yiddish Bildungsroman? Transcultural Coming-of-Age Narratives in Jewish Central and Eastern Europe.” Irad holds an MA degree in Yiddish Literature from Tel-Aviv University.