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‎12 Tammuz 5784 | ‎18/07/2024

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The Miracle on the Sea: A Yom Kippur Story by I. L. Peretz

The Miracle on the Sea: A Yom Kippur Story by I. L. Peretz

ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – Yitzhak Leib Peretz is considered to be one of the three great classical Yiddish writers, along with Mendele Mokher Seforim and Sholem Aleichem.  He was born in Poland, in 1852, and raised in an Orthodox Jewish home of Sephardic origin.  At the age of 15 he joined the Haskalah, the Jewish enlightenment movement, and began a deliberate plan of secular learning, reading books in Polish, Russian, German, and French.  He soon began to write poetry, songs, and stories in Hebrew.

After that he lived in Warsaw, where he founded Hazomir (The Nightingale), which became the cultural center of pre‑World War I Yiddish Warsaw.

His first Yiddish work, a long ballad called Monish, was published in 1888.  He then continued to write in Yiddish, and also assisted other Yiddish writers in publishing their work.  He was a writer of social criticism, sympathetic to the labor movement, and wrote stories, folk tales and plays.

Peretz died in Warsaw in 1915.  In 1925, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of his death, an ornate shrine was unveiled in Warsaw’s Jewish Cemetery, which miraculously survived World War II. There are streets named after him in Poland, in his birthplace Zamoshtch and Warsaw, in several cities in Israel, and Peretz Square, in lower Manhattan, was dedicated in November, 1952.

This story, The Miracle on the Sea, was translated by Joseph Leftwich and published in 2002 by Steerforth Press in the anthology Prophets and Dreamers.