Born in Kutno, Poland in 1880, Asch began his career when he moved to
Warsaw at age 19 and became a pupil of Isaac Leib Peretz, a founding father
of Yiddish literature. Four years later, Asch's prominence as a Yiddish author
was established with the publication of his novel, Dos Shtetl or The Town
(1904). Where some saw only filth and unenlightenment among the inhabitants of
Jewish enclaves, Asch wrote of the beauty, tradition and charm within. His tragedy,
God of Vengeance (1907), tells of a father seeking to protect his daughter from the
immorality of the brothel that occupied the lower floor of their dwelling. To do this, the
father places a Torah scroll in her room in hopes that the holy writings would guard
her from the sinful activities below. The play, although well received internationally,
was repudiated by those who considered the father's act a defilation of the Torah.