Sholom Secunda’s If Not Higher is a musical dramatization of one of Isaac Leyb Peretz’s most famous short stories, “Oyb nit nokh hekher.” This story also forms. IF NOT HIGHER. And the Rebbe of Nemirov, every Friday morning early at Sliches-time, disappeared, melted into thin air! He was not to be. If Not Higher by I.L. Peretz. Taken from Jewish Short Stories from Eastern Europe and Beyond, a 10 CD set available from our store at.

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It was followed by a performance in in Cleveland, with the Robert Shaw Chorale, and another in in Atlanta. In any case, he no longer felt impelled i.l.perretz deprive the folk of their cherished, harmless belief.

If Not Higher, by I. L. Peretz –

If those values could be extracted to become encompassed instead by modern, nonreligious Jewish culture, their religious origin could still be acknowledged. He is also viewed as one of a triumvirate of classical Yiddish writers who laid the cornerstone and ensured the vitality and progress of Yiddish literary culture—the other two of whom were Mendele Moykher Sforim [Sholem Yankev Abramovitch] and Sholem Secunda.

Especially after his period of imprisonment in ostensibly for i.l.perets socialist sympathies or for aiding socialist activity, although he was not an uncritically committed socialisthe wrote neo-Romantic folk and Hassidic stories that embraced original material as well as recast versions of traditional tales in new illuminations. Skip to main content. The Lithuanian knows it to be the voice of a Jewess, a sick Jewess. The Rebbe has been awake some time. Peretz went through a i.lp.eretz of reassessment during which he appears to have revisited some of his assumptions about stubborn folkways and his attitudes toward folk wisdom, Hassidic sensibilities and values, some Hassidic leadership, and even Hassidism itself.

A number of his stories and essays reflect that conviction. This excerpt is in English. If Not Higher was composed in during the period when Secunda was turning his attention from Second Avenue Yiddish theater and other popular Jewish songwriting to more classically oriented endeavors.

Then, when the stove was alight, and the wood crackled cheerily, he repeated, more gaily, the second part of Sliches. When she still declines out of fear that she would never be able to repay even so small a loan, he reproaches her—as a Pole bt Russian speaking to a Jew: The Rebbe puts them on. First, the rebbe here fulfills the mitzvot of charity and kindness. Peretz “If Not Higher”. But the heart of a Hy is byy cast-iron.


This is an excerpt from an oral history with Marlene Hait. Join or Renew for Tracks Liner Notes Lyrics Credits. Jews no evil eye!

If Not Higher, by I. L. Peretz

For modernizing or secular Jews, he believed that neither Hebrew nor Yiddish should be discarded. Just as he repudiated assimilation and dissolution of Jewish distinctness as solutions to Jewish survival, he also rejected systematized emigration—whether to supposedly liberal-democratic host nations in Western Europe or the New World, or to a Jewish national home in Palestine or elsewhere.

Explore all interviews. Another in his place would have dozed and slept the time away. Meanwhile, if there were those who needed for a while longer to retain their religious beliefs—even if the overall pace of social progress would thereby be slowed—it might be best i.peretz leave them alone for the time being.

In i.l.pefetz optimism about the possibility of peaceful, even amicable coexistence of peoples and their individual cultures and languages in shared geographical boundaries and governments, Peretz was not so much an anti-Zionist as a non-Zionist.

The Rebbe lies still, too—the Rebbe, long life to him, upon the bed and the Lithuanian under the bed! Although he continued with Yiddish poetry, the major efforts for which he is best remembered are prose: Logical, rational, calculating, and correct, Stuffed with knowledge, Bursting with Chapter and Verse.

If Not Higher – Milken Archive of Jewish Music

And without further ado he goes in. Marlene Hait, raised in a Yiddish home by survivors of the Holocaust, speaks about I.

Sign up to receive a weekly email with a highlighted video clip: But not the rabbi! The time is long ago; The bittersweet past; alas, the dead past. You know the Lithuanian Jews—they rather despise books of devotion, but stuff themselves with the Talmud and the codes. In promoting Jewish culture in place of insular religious life as the prime force of modern Jewish peoplehood and as the ensurer of a viable post-Emancipation Jewish existence, he continued at the same time to identify on certain levels with—and even model some of his ideals on—Polish struggles for national and cultural-national identity and preservation that had served as alternatives to political independence or sovereignty.

If Not Higher by I.L. Peretz.

And later, when anyone told how the Rebbe early every morning at Sliches-time raised himself and flew up into heaven, the Lithuanian, instead of laughing, added quietly:. A growing collection of in-depth interviews with people of all ages and backgrounds, whose stories about the legacy and changing nature of Yiddish language and culture offer a rich and complex chronicle of Jewish identity.


During the four decades following the publication of this story init appears to have been widely known in Europe among various groups of Hassidim who, in their insularity, would neither have read nor have been permitted to read Peretz or any other modern Jewish literature; nor would they even have known his name. It takes place in the Polish town of Nemirov, where it pits a Hassidic rebbe and his devoted flock against a quintessential litvak lit.

After that the Lithuanian hears the beds in the house squeak—the people jump out of them—a Jewish word is spoken now and again—water is poured on the fingers—a door is opened here and there. Rather, they should be preserved by Jews in tandem with Polish and Russian—or, by extension, with the particular byy of other countries of which Jews were a part.

Who for life and who for death; Who for good and who for ill. The soul that heard was dissolved in grief. Behind the town stands a little wood. He altered some of his attitudes, without reversing them altogether. Like the expedition, that experience offered yet another array of sources for subject matter, characterizations, and psychological forays that found their way into his work.

Determined in his conviction bot Yiddish must forgo its provincial state, he insisted that it must become recognized as a universal and modern language of serious literature and discourse. Obviously, the woodcutter-rebbe did not actually expect any repayment, nor would i.l.pereta have accepted any; but by letting his gift appear to be a loan, he has left the indigent woman with her dignity intact.

At his hand, these were not necessarily without deeper symbolic layers, metaphorical higheer, or camouflaged significance. In that concern he turned out to have been prescient about the potential of populist oppression—a tyranny of the masses in structured form that could suffocate jigher and creative freedom.

The Lithuanian steals in behind him, and sees, in the gray light of dawn, a poor room with poor, broken furniture. They have never been told any such thing, of course, by their rebbe, who keeps his whereabouts a mystery. I.l.perstz, soon the Jews of Nemirov Would stand swaying before their Creator And soon, soon His judgment would be inscribed: