Alisa Solomon, author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, about the evolving image of the shtetl in American culture on the Stories page
Sholem Aleichem, called "the Mark Twain of Yiddish" during his lifetime and best known today as the author of the Tevye stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof, was born Sholem Nauchim Rabinovich in Pereyaslav in 1859.
Although Sholem Aleichem spent much of his life living within a 50-mile radius of his hometown, he died in New York in 1916. His memorial march through Jewish New York City drew 250,000 mourners according to some estimates, the largest public funeral in the history of New York at the time.
For more on Sholem Aleichem and his life in Pereyaslav see Notable People on this site's People page.
Pereyaslav in the 19th century was the county center of the Poltava Gubernia of the Russian Empire. Its Jewish population grew throughout the century, reaching 5,754 citizens by 1897, roughly a third of the town's inhabitants.
The 20th century, however, was a painful period for the Jews of Pereyaslav. In June 1919 a pogrom killed 20 of the town's Jews. In the fall of 1941 800 Pereyaslav Jews were rounded up by Nazi occupiers, marched to clay pits on the outskirts of town and shot. On May 19, 1943 eight surviving Jews, seven women and one man, were executed.
A 2001 census listed only 17 Jewish residents remaining among Pereyaslav-Khmel'nyts'kyy's 30,000 inhabitants.
Location: 50° 05' N, 31° 28' E, 47 miles southeast of Kiev
Other Names: Pereyaslav-Khmel'nitskiy [Rus], Переяслав-Хмельницкий [Rus],Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi [Ukr], Переяслав-Хмельницький [Ukr], Periyoslov [Yid], פּרעיאַסלעוו [Yid], Pereyaslav, Pereiaslav, Pierejaslav, Perejasław, Perejaslawl, Pereiaslav-Poltavskyi, Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyy, Perejasław-Chmielnicki, ,
Illustration at top of page by Todros Geller, "Going Home on Shabbat" from Fun Land tsu Land (From Land to Land), 1930 (public domain)
Photo of Sholem Aleichem, New York 1907, courtesy of Beit Sholem Aleichem, Tel Aviv, Israel
Comments, questions or submissions?
Anyone who has material relating to the memory of Jewish ancestors who lived in Pereyaslav -- especially photographs, mementos, letters, memoirs, documents, or family stories -- please reach out to the creators of the site via email below.
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