Bel Kaufman, the 102-year-old granddaughter of famed Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem, is the guest on the January 19, 2014 edition of Radio Chavura.
(L) Bel as a child with her grandfather, Sholem Aleichem; (R) A recent photo of Bel Kaufman.
Born Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich in 1859, Sholem Aleichem is best known for writing the stories that were eventually adapted for Broadway and film as 'Fiddler on the Roof.'
Often referred to as "the Jewish Mark Twain," Aleichem was born into a Hasidic family and grew up in a shtetl in what is now the Ukraine. He resettled in New York City in 1905 and passed away in 1916. Aleichem had six children. His daughter, Lyalya, a Hebrew writer, was Kaufman's mother.
In her exclusive interview with Radio Chavura, Kaufman observes, "I am the only person in the world at this time who [personally] remembers Sholem Aleichem."
Although Kaufman was five years old when her famous grandfather died, she still has clear memories of him. She recalls that Aleichem used to say to her, "'The tighter you hold my hand, [the better] I will write.' So," Kaufman jokes, "anyone who enjoys his writing has me to thank."
Kaufman, who lives in Manhattan with her 97-year-old husband, is a successful author in her own right. In 1965, she penned the bestselling "Up The Down Staircase," which recounted the life of a first-year public school teacher in New York City. The book was made into a film in 1967, starring Sandy Dennis as the teacher.
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Read more about Bel Kaufman and her Radio Chavura interview here.