4: Short story excerpt from Sholem Aleichem's “Really a Sukkah," 1903.
This story by the classic Yiddish author Sholem Aleicheim is told from the perspective of a child whose family’s fortunes change suddenly, forcing them to sell their home. They ask Moishe, a town know-it-all, to build them a sukkah, and he promises that he will be successful. Really Moishe's signature trait, and the source of his nickname, is his praise of everything using the emphatic "really." Sholem Aleichem undercuts Really Moishe's optimism, however, when his "really a sukkah" ends up being unstable and collapsing during the celebration of sukkot, demonstrating with hilarity how flimsy and precarious the good things in life actually are.
Suggested Activity: Ask your students to discuss the following questions: What does Moishe's defense of his sukkah mean? Is there something more authentic, more “really” a sukkah, about a sukkah that is unstable rather than permanent? Why does Moishe refuse to see how slipshod his own work is? How is this representation of a humble sukkah similar to or different from the representation in the folksong in resource #3 of this kit?
Source: Sholem Aleichem, “Really a Sukkah!” trans. Aliza Shevrin in Holiday Tales of Sholem Aleichem (Mineola, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1979), 1-9.