Statue of Sholem Aleichem unveiled at Tel Aviv University

A bronze statue of the Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem was unveiled at Tel Aviv University on June 6, 2023. Aleichem, one of the most popular classical writers of modern Yiddish literature, is best known for his collection of stories, Tevye the Dairyman, which was the basis for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof.

The commissioning of the statue, created by Russian-Jewish sculptor Yuri Chernov, was the brainchild of Dr. Mark Zilberquit, a Moscow-based author and publisher and founder of the Yiddish Heritage Preservation Foundation, whose goal is to preserve Yiddish language and culture; Yiddish was the common denominator of the majority of European Jews before the Holocaust. The foundation was among the donors to the project, as was the Leonard Blavatnik Foundation, which engages in international philanthropy, mostly in education and culture.

The sculpture is a replica of one that stands in the historical Jewish quarter of Moscow, near the former building of the GOSET Theater.

The Yiddish Heritage and Preservation Foundation has a strong relationship with TAU, providing scholarships for students studying various aspects of Yiddish culture. The Aleichem statue is part of a pilot project that may become the nucleus of a Yiddish literature sculpture garden, with statues of figures such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, I.L. Peretz, Avraham Sutzkever, Sholem Asch, Itzik Manger, Kadia Molodowska, Avraham Goldfaden, and Esther Kreitman.

The dedication ceremony was led by Professor Ariel Porat, President of TAU; Amos Elad, Vice President of TAU; and Dr. Haim Ben Yakov. Also participating were Dr. Zilberquit; Leonard Blavatnik, founder of the Leonard Blavatnik Foundation; and Professor Yair Lipshitz. Mr. Blavatnik presented the keynote address and Dr. Zilberquit received an honorary diploma at the event.