Sholem Asch, born Szalom Asz (Yiddish: שלום אַש), also written Shalom Asch (November 1, 1880 – July 10, 1957), was a Polish-born American Jewish novelist, dramatist, and essayist in the Yiddish language.
Life and work 
Asch was born in Kutno, Poland, one of ten children of Moszek Asz (1825 Gabin-1905 Kutno), a cattle-dealer and innkeeper, and Frajda Malka, née Widawska (1850 Łęczyca), and received a traditional Jewish education; as a young man he followed that with a more liberal education obtained at Włocławek, where he supported himself as a letter writer for the illiterate Jewish townspeople. From there he moved to Warsaw, where he met and married Mathilde Shapiro, the daughter of the Polish-Jewish writer, M.M. Shapiro. Influenced by the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), initially Asch wrote in Hebrew, but I.L. Peretz convinced him to switch to Yiddish.
He traveled to Palestine in 1908 and the U.S. in 1910. He sat out World War I in the U.S. where he became a naturalized citizen in 1920. He returned to Poland. He later moved to France, visited Palestine again in 1936, and settled in the U.S. in 1938.
His Kiddush ha-Shem (1919) is one of the earliest historical novels in modern Yiddish literature, about the antisemitic Chmielnicki Uprising in mid-17th century Ukraine and Poland. When his 1907 drama, God of Vengeance — which is set in a brothel and whose plot features a lesbian relationship — was performed on Broadway in 1923, the entire cast was arrested and successfully prosecuted on obscenity charges, despite the fact that the play was sufficiently highly esteemed in Europe to have already been translated into German, Russian, Polish, Hebrew, Italian, Czech and Norwegian. His 1929–31 trilogy, Farn Mabul (Before the Flood, translated as Three Cities) describes early 20th century Jewish life in St. Petersburg, Warsaw, and Moscow. His Bayrn Opgrunt (1937, translated as The Precipice), is set in Germany during the hyperinflation of the 1920s. Dos Gezang fun Tol (The Song of the Valley) is about the halutzim (Jewish-Zionist pioneers in Palestine), and reflects his 1936 visit to that region.
A celebrated writer in his own lifetime, a 12-volume set of his collected works was published in the early 1920s; in 1932 he was awarded the Polish Republic's Polonia Restituta decoration and was elected honorary president of the Yiddish PEN Club. However, he was later to offend Jewish sensibilities with his 1939–1949 trilogy, The Nazarene, The Apostle, and Mary, which dealt with New Testament subjects. The Forward, New York's leading Yiddish-language newspaper, not only dropped him as a writer, but also openly attacked him for promoting Christianity.
Asch spent most of his last two years in Bat Yam near Tel Aviv, Israel (although he died in London). His house in Bat Yam is now the Sholem Asch Museum. The bulk of his library, containing rare Yiddish books and manuscripts, including the manuscripts of some of his own works, is held at Yale University.
His sons were Moszek Asz Moses "Moe" Asch (born February 12, 1905, Warsaw, died October 19, 1986, USA), the founder and head of Folkways Records, and Natan Asz/Nathan Asch (born 1902, Warsaw, died 1964, USA), also a writer.
- In the Beginning: Bible Stories for Children by Sholem Asch (Performed by Arna Bontemps) (Folkways Records, 1955)
- Joseph and His Brothers: From In the Beginning by Sholem Asch (Performed by Arna Bontemps) (Folkways Records, 1955)
- Jewish Classical Literature: Read by Chaim Ostrowsky (Folkways Records, 1960)
- Nativity: Sholem Asch's Story of the Birth of Jesus (Performed by Pete Seeger) (Folkways Records, 1963)
- Readings from the Bible - Old Testament: Compiled by Sholem Asch (Performed by Harry Fleetwood) (Folkways Records, 1972)
- Sholem Asch: A Statement and Lecture at Columbia University, N.Y. October, 1952 (Folkways Records, 1977)
- "Sholem Asch, One Destiny: an Epistle to the Christians | Issue 22". Kesher Journal. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- "One Destiny Part 1". Petahtikvah.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- "One Destiny Part 2". Petahtikvah.com. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- East River: A Novel of New York - Sholem Asch - Google Bόcher. Books.google.de. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- —, Sholem Asch, on the site of the Yale University Library, Judaica Collection.
- Bell, June D., "Sholem Asch's Yiddish drama God of Vengeance(1907)" on the All About Jewish Theater site.
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Asch, Sholem
- Umansky, Ellen, "Asch's Passion", mostly about his controversial trilogy that began with The Nazarene
- Tumanov, Vladimir. "Novelizing Myth in Sholem Asch's Moses." Yiddish 11 (1-2) 1998: 162-184.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sholem Asch|
- Sholem Asch Discography at Smithsonian Folkways
- Ben Siegel, The controversial Sholem Asch: an introduction to his fiction, 313p. read in parts at google-books
- Alyssa Quint, Asch’s Diamonds, A New Essay Collection Gives an Oft-neglected Master His Due, a review in The Forward
- "Workbook" on the Asch-Howe Quarrel
- Sara Blacher-Retter reads A shtiler gortn and A dorf-tsadik
- A bust of Sholem Asch by Jacob Epstein, from the collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem