Page 12 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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TH E SIGNIFICANCE OF JEWISH BOOK WEEK
Jewish Book Week is do ing excellent work in its annua l
campaign to acqua in t ou r people w i th Jewish l i tera ture . T h e
Rabbis tell tha t when the T o r a h was given to Israel, the Sword
and the Book came down jo in t ly from Heaven and a voice cried
ou t tha t mank ind must choose one or ano ther . Today when the
Sword of b ru te force and Paganism is rag ing in the world a pa r t
of ou r offensive mus t therefore consist in ou r re-dedication to
the ideals of ou r sacred l i terature .
We must no t be satisfied wi th ou r mere possession of the
Book bu t we must endeavor to acqua in t every Jewish home wi th
Jewish ideologies and the inne r sp i r i tua l values as they are
expressed in ou r own l i terature . Jewish Book Week can serve
and does serve such a purpose. As a “People of the Book” it is
ou r sacred du ty to create a closer un i ty between Jewish l i te ra tu re
and living Jews today, for we canno t hope for a Jewish sp i r i tua l
life in America w i thou t the knowledge of ou r accumu la ted
treasures of learning.
S a m u e l B e l k i n ,
Dean, the Ra b b i Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.
Read ing is the most endu r ing and en r ich ing pleasure, for i t
impar ts de l igh t even in memory. No th ing can vie w i th it, save
perhaps writing, which, however, is only a special k ind of read-
ing, read ing of oneself. T h e savory food we once tasted, the
exh i la ra t ing walk we once took, never th r i l l as much as the
remembered lines of the Psalms or of H am le t which suddenly
flash w i th new meaning. Yet this pleasure is no t a luxury , b u t
almost a biological necessity; for how can we hum an ly live
w i thou t intercourse w i th original minds and w i thou t contact
w i th the past in which abide the roots and antecedents of all the
sorrows and the dreams of ou r day?
For a Jew, this applies also to Jewish reading . T h e r e is a th r i l l
and suspense in the read ing of the heroic story of Israe l’s march
th rough the wor ld—an unequa led epic poem w r i t ten by destiny
or God ’s own Hand . T h e r e is soul-enrichment and inne r growth
in the read ing of the works of Israel, the though ts and emotions,
which, in the i r first period, became the Bible of m ank ind , and
which con t inued to flow successively in Babylon, Spain, Ger-
many, Russia, and now seek new u t te rance in Palestine and here
too, in America. Such read ing is now pa r t icu la r ly vital, because
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