The Kaddish part 1

Abraham Raisin (187&—1953)

Raisin is another of the Yiddish group who came from Russia, though he lived for some time in the United States. He is equally well-known among Yiddish readers as a poet and as a writer of stories.

The technical virtues of this popular and influential artist are particularly well exemplified in The Kaddish.

This story is reprinted from the volume, Yiddish Tales, translated by Helena Frank, copyright, 1912, by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission it is here used.

The Kaddish

From behind the curtain came low moans, and low words of encouragement from the old and experienced Bobbe. In the room it was dismal to suffocation. The seven children, all girls, between twenty three and four years old, sat quietly each by herself, with drooping head, and waited for something dreadful.

At a little table near a great cupboard with books sat the “patriarch” Reb Selig Chanes, a tall, thin Jew, w

Abandoned part 3

“Is he yours, Kulock? Well, I never!… Look at his little eyes … if he don`t look just like Marina! … her nose—exactly! as I live! What a jewel of a lad!… Give him to me!…” She took the baby from him, and bounced it up and down. “There!… there! you little rascal.”

Old man Kradnick, the “master” of the thieving gentry, got up slowly, approached the baby, examined it, and slapped Kulock on the back.

“Fine husky little chap!… He`ll climb through a transom nimbly enough, all right. … Who`s the mother?”

“May she burn like a fire! … She ran away, taking the candlesticks with her.”

“And left you the kid?”


“That`s bad… that`s bad.”

The old man scratched his head. The younger Kradnick approached and said to Kulock: “That`s right. … I guess you`ll have to give up the profession now, and become a nurse. &

Abandoned part 2

He turned away from the child, put on his hat hurriedly, and went out, locking the door behind him. He walked on aimlessly, but with no peace of mind… The baby`s cries kept ringing in his ears, as if it were calling to him… In fancy he could see it before him, kicking its little legs about, wailing frantically… No! he must turn back. …“Oh, if I could get a-hold of her now!” he thought to himself, “I`d nab her by the throat and choke her!… choke her till her tongue stuck out, damn her!”

He entered a bakery, bought a roll, and went back to the house. The baby lay as before, uncovered, but smiling.

Comfortable Enough

“Devil take the brat! he looks comfortable enough, the little cuss.” .. .And he left the house again. But he couldn`t make himself walk on. All the time he fancied he heard the little one wailing… and it made him feel such a gnawing anguish at heart. …

He clenched his fists

Abandoned part 1

Sholom Asch (1880—1957)

Sholom Asch (or Ash) was born in Poland, and is to-day regarded as one of the most gifted of recent Yiddish writers. He was the writer of plays (The God Of Vengeance was produced in English and censored in New York), novels, and short stories. Like Peretz and certain others, he began writing in Hebrew, but, finding that there was only a small public he could reach by that medium, he soon turned to the Yiddish.

Abandoned is a story characteristic of the nervous style of this writer, brief, highly dramatic, and of compelling interest.

This story is reprinted from the Pagan magazine, the editor of which has authorized its inclusion in the present collection.


When Burih awoke he heard the baby crying, so with eyes still closed he called to his wife: “Golda! the brat is bawling.”

Golda did not answer. He looked around and noticed that she wasn`t in the house. He was rather surprised,

A Picnic part 4

“O Sarah!” he sighed, and he would have said more, but just at that moment it began to spot with rain, and before they had time to move there came a downpour. People started to scurry in all directions, but Shmuel stood like a statue.

“Shlimm-mazel, look after the children!” commanded Sarah. Shmuel caught up two of them, Sarah another two or three, and they ran to a shelter. Doletzke began to cry afresh.

“Mame, hungry!” began Berele.

“Hungry, hungry!” wailed Yossele. “I want to eat!”

Shmuel hastily opened the handbag, and then for the first time he saw what had really happened: the bottle had broken, and the milk was flooding the bag; the rolls and bananas were soaked, and the pineapple (a damaged one to begin with) looked too nasty for words. Sarah caught sight on the bag, and was so angry, she was at a loss how to wreak vengeance on her husband. She was ashamed to scream and Scold in the presence of other people, but she

A Picnic part 3

Shmuel counted his children and the traps. “No, nothing, Sarah!” he said.

Doletzke went to sleep, the other children sat quietly in their places. Sarah, too, fell into a doze, for she was tired out with the preparations for the excursion.

All went smoothly till they got some way up town, when Sarah gave ‘ a start.

“I don`t feel very well—my head is so dizzy,” she said to Shmuel.

“I don`t feel very well, either,” answered Shmuel. “I suppose the fresh air has upset us.”

“I suppose it has,” said his wife. “I`m afraid for the children.”

Scarcely had she spoken when Doletzke woke up, whimpering, and was sick. Yossele, who was looking at her, began to cry likewise. The mother scolded him, and this set the other children crying. The conductor cast a wrathful glance at poor Shmuel, who was so frightened that he dropped the hand-bag with the provisions, and then, conscious of the havoc he had ce

A Picnic part 2

“What will it cost?” asks Sarah, suddenly, and Shmuel has soon made the necessary calculation.

“A family ticket is only thirty cents, for Yossele, Rivele, Hannahle, and Berele; for Resele and Doletzke I haven`t to pay any carfare at all. For you and me, it will be ten cents there and ten back—that makes fifty cents. Then I reckon thirty cents for refreshments to take with us: a pineapple (a damaged one isn`t more than five cents), a few bananas, a piece of watermelon, a bottle of milk for the children, and a few-rolls—the whole thing shouldn`t cost us more than eighty cents at the outside.”
“Eighty cents!” and Sarah clapped her hands together in dismay.

“Why, you can live on that two days, and it takes nearly a whole days` earning. You can buy an old ice-box for eighty cents, you can buy a pair of trousers—eighty cents!”

Shmuel disconcerted

“Leave off talking nonsense!” said Shmuel, disconcerted. “Eight

A Picnic part 1

S. Libin (Israel Hurwitz) (1872-1955)

Israel Hurwitz, better known by his pseudonym, S. (or Z.) Libin, was born in Russia in 1872. He wrote a number of short stories, having specialized to a great extent in that form. Libin`s best work is found in his brief and homely sketches of Jewish domestic life among the labouring classes of the large cities. He was for many years a resident in the United States.

A Picnic reveals one of the amusing aspects of Jewish life. It is related with lightness of touch and great good-humour.

This story is reprinted from the volume, Yiddish Tales, translated by Helena Frank, copyright, 1912, by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission, it is here used.

A Picnic

Ask Shmuel, the capmaker, just for a joke, if he would like to come for a picnic! He`ll fly out at you as if you had invited him to a swing on the gallows. The fact is, he and his Sarah once went for a picnic, and the

The Passover Guest part 4

And with these words my father sighs deeply, and my mother, as she looks at him, sighs also, and I cannot understand the reason. Surely we should be proud and glad to think we have such a land, ruled over by a Jewish king and high priest, a land with Levites and an organ, with an altar and sacrifices—and bright, sweet thoughts enfold me, and carry me away as on wings to that happy Jewish land where the houses are of pine-wood and roofed with silver, where the furniture is gold, and diamonds and pearls lie scattered in the street.

And I feel sure, were I really there, I should know what to do—I should know how to hide things—they would shake nothing out of me. I should certainly bring home a lovely present for my mother, diamond ear-rings and several pearl necklaces. I look at the one mother is wearing, at her ear-rings, and I feel a great desire to be in that country. And it occurs to me, that after Passover I will travel there with our guest, secretly, no one shall

The Passover Guest part 3

Having learned his name, my father was anxious to know whence, from what land he came. I understood this from the names of countries and towns which I caught, and from what my father translated for my mother, giving her a Yiddish version of nearly every phrase. And my mother was quite overcome by every single thing she heard, and Rikel the maid was overcome likewise.

And no wonder! It is not every day that a person comes from perhaps two thousand miles away, from a land only to be reached across seven seas and a desert, the desert journey alone requiring forty days and nights. And when you get near to the land, you have to climb a mountain of which the top reaches into the clouds, and this is covered with ice, and dreadful winds blow there, so that there is peril of death! But once the mountain is safely climbed, and the land is reached, one beholds a terrestrial Eden.

Kind of Fruit

Spices, cloves, herbs, and every kind of fruit—apples, pears, an