Ruth von Bernuth

Apr 2, 2018

How the Wise Men Got to Chelm

The Life and Times of a Yiddish Folk Tradition

New York University Press 2016

purchase at In How the Wise Men Got to Chelm: The Life and Times of a Yiddish Folk Tradition (New York University Press, 2017), Ruth von Bernuth, Associate Professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures and Director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents the first in-depth study of Chelm literature and its relationship to its literary precursors. The Chelm stories surrounding the 'wise men' (fools) of this town constitute the best-known folktale tradition of the Jews of Eastern Europe. Bernuth's book joins together a historical analysis of early modern and modern German and Yiddish literature to give us a compelling and insightful account of the history of these stories.
Max Kaiser is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. He can be reached at

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