Page 11 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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ment , a no tewor thy accomplishment of far-reaching importance.
I t represents a constructive forward step in Jewish communi ty
in teg ra t ion on the level of cu l tu ra l creativity, and reinforces our
fa i th in the essential un i ty of ou r people amidst its colorful
diversity. I t establishes a salutary precedent and p a t te rn for
inter-group action, wor thy of emulat ion .
T h e t ransp lan ta t ion in recent years of no ted Eu ropean Jewish
scholars and au thors to ou r hospi table shores, and the decided
increase in the volume and character of Jewish books publ ished
here, presage the leading role which America is destined to
assume as a center of Jewish culture. T h is constitutes a challenge
to ou r sp ir i tua l resourcefulness and virility. We should embrace
this oppo r tun i ty eagerly and con t inue to promote projects tha t
will tend to break down the pub l ic ’s dep lorab le indifference to
Jewish books, and he lp to focus a t ten t ion upon the i r impor tance
as vital factors no t only in enr iching ou r Jewish literary legacy
and in con t r ibu t ing to Jewish survival, b u t also as allies in the
present struggle for democracy. From the la t te r po in t of view, it
was hea r ten ing to receive repor ts ind ica t ing tha t in some com-
mun i t ies “drives” were conducted du r ing Jewish Book Week to
secure Jewish books for the libraries of local USO Centers. Evi-
dently, the far-sighted leaders responsible for these campaigns
recognize tha t ideas and books are po ten t weapons of war and
const i tute readily accessible ins t rumental i t ies in fortifying and
sustaining morale.
I t would be well to recall in this connection the common
emphasis upon the dissemination and popu lar iza t ion of knowl-
edge in bo th the democratic and Jewish traditions. Israel po in ted
the way abou t three thousand years ago to the ideal of universal
education, which is regarded as one of the cornerstones of
democracy. Its significance in the l ight of the catastrophic
developments of the past decade cannot be overestimated. I t is
realized tha t a well-informed, intel l igent citizenry is an absolutely
indispensable prerequisi te for the bu i ld ing of the be t te r in-
tegrated world of tomorrow, in which war as a me thod of
settling in te rna t iona l disputes and its a t tendan t evils will be bu t
a b i t te r memory. In the laying of the groundwork and in the
shaping of this new society, books have a strategic func t ion to
perform, as repositories of past experience and gu id ing ideals,
as steadfast companions responsive to ind iv idua ls’ varying needs
and moods, and as sources of en l igh tenmen t and inspirat ion .
May I add a personal word. T h e substant ial progress achieved
by the Na t iona l Commi t tee wi th the extremely l imi ted means
a t its disposal du r ing the per iod of a lit t le over a year tha t 1
have been privileged to be at the helm, would no t have been
possible w i thou t the consecrated devot ion of my fellow officers
and colleagues, whose whole-hearted suppo r t has rendered my
difficult task a genu ine labor of love.