Fun Facts Friday: Sholem Asch

November 1, 2019

Sholem Asch (1 November, 1880 – 10 July, 1957) was a Polish novelist who wrote in Yiddish.

Fun Facts: Sholem Asch
Books by Sholem Asch*

  1. Born as Szalom Asz in Poland, as the fourth of 10 children, his parents dealt with cattle and kept an inn.
  2. The author’s father, Moszek Asz, was known to be a very charitable man.
  3. The family were practicing Jews, and very religious. Since most of the people he knew in his childhood were Jewish, Mr. Asch believed that Jews were the majority.
  4. As a child he was cornered by Christian children threatening to beat him up and release their dogs upon him, unless he admitted to killing Christ. Fearing for his life, he admitted to this fallacy and ran away, however he never lost his fear of dogs.
  5. There were big social changes in popular Jewish thinking at the time (known as Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment), the teenage Szalom Asz explored these ideas secretly reading secular books. When his parents found out they sent him to a nearby village where he became a Hebrew teacher.
  6. In 1899 Mr. Asch moved to Warsaw and started writing.
  7. The drama 1906 God of Vengeance (Got fun nekome) takes place in a Jewish brothel and includes Jewish prostitutes, lesbians, and throwing of the Torah across the stage. The play was translated into about a dozen languages and was very controversial. It was hailed as artistic and beautiful but also as immoral and misrepresenting Jewish traditions.
  8. In New York, the cast and producers of God of Vengeance got indicted, and convicted, on charges of obscenity.
  9. In 1914 Mr. Asch and his family moved to Staten Island, NY. He moved back to Poland, then back toStamford, Connecticut, Miami Beach and spent the last two years of his life in Bat-Yam, Israel.
  10. The author died in London, due to his controversial plays he wrote late in life (including a trilogy on the New Testament meant to bridge the gap between Jews and Christians, but offended the Jewish Community) a small funeral was held instead of a larger one which was expected to draw a huge crowd.

Books by Sholem Asch*

Zohar — Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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