Page 141 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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PRAGER / SHOLEM-ALEYKEM’S FIRST FEUILLETON SERIES
129
why they have shards placed on their eyes at death.
Goodness, isn’t 2000 enough for us? Alright, Zusye, we’ll
throw in another 500 — 2,500: enough, Zusye dear, that
should be enough!
— Zisl! I am not interested! I want only the grand prize —
twenty thousand to the last penny!
— Oh, Zusye, you are sinning, Zusye: I shall do this for
your sake — let it be half, 10,000, and just to please you!
— Zisl! Don’t mention half to me! I don’t want to hear any­
thing about 10,000, only 20,000!23
Sholem-Aleykhem was fascinated by gambling all his life and his
stock exchange, card-playing and lottery stories and plays were
close to his experience and constituted a large part of his thematic
repertoire.24 Rabinovitsh’s Zusye cheerfully makes the greatest
compromises with reality, but she will not budge with regard to
her dreams.
USE OF REPORTAGE
In keeping with the journalistic spirit of
The Intercepted Letters,
Velvele (formerly of Finsternish) and Berele become a team of
roving reporters, by now explicitly working for someone who is
called
Sholem-Aleykhem.
To extend the range of their coverage,
another reporter, Hershele, is added. In keeping with modern
news-gathering developments, Hershele specializes; provincial
special features are his forte. Velvele writes to Leybele (the won­
ders of
this
world communicated to someone in the
next\
): “Don’t
be surprised that our reporter Hershele jumps so quickly from
town to town: he travels by air balloon!”25 In the eighth letter we
hear the last of the regenerate Leybele, who moralizes heavily on
the theme of hypocrisy. The ninth letter was suppressed because
the editor of the
Yidishes folksblat,
Aleksander Tsederboym,
thought it was his prerogative to polemicize with editors of oppo­
sition newspapers and not Rabinovitsh’s. The suppressed letter,
as we saw above, is a document of Zionist rhetoric and sentiment.
The last feuilleton of the series, the tenth, experiments with yet
23 Idem, p. 98.
24 See Leonard Prager, “Sholem-Aleykhem’s Kenig Pik ‘King o f Spades
'."Jewish
Language Review
2 (1982), 7-20.
25 Idem, p. 124.