Page 13 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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we need unde rs tand ing and strength for ou r struggles, martyr-
dom, and hopes.
T o quo te Plato and Sophocles from the Greek is no t a vain
display, for the best translators necessarily leave ou t some sug-
gestion and meaning; and this res idual thought-stuff clinging
to the original vessels of expression is sometimes of pa r t icu la r
significance and impor t . Is no t this all the more true of the
writings of Isaiah, Halevi , and Bialik?
I
s r a e l
E
f r o s
,
President , His tadru t Iv r i t
and
Hebrew Pen Club.
We generally speak of “creative wr i t ing .” Bu t there is also
“creative read ing .” Creative read ing is tha t type of read ing which
th rough the exercise of critical faculty and the demand for
con t inua l ly improved standards, stimulates writers to the i r best
efforts. An age of creative readers makes for l i te ra tu re which is
immor tal . T h e periods of the great creative artists of the past
may be said to have owed the i r dist inct ion no t merely to few
par t icu lar ly gifted men, b u t perhaps even more to the demands
o£ a highly trained , intelligent, if limi ted public, able to influence
the general taste.
O u r age cannot, generally speaking, be called one of creative
reading, and today the most popu la r books are likely to be
those of ephemeral value.
T h e lack of interest in books on Juda ism is a reflection of this
general condi t ion . Grave as the s i tua t ion is for civilization gen-
erally, i t presents a special danger to Judaism.
1
earnestly hope tha t Jewish Book Week will result in a larger
pub l ic for l i te ra tu re on Judaism, inc lud ing the real contribu-
tions tha t are now being made by writers in this country.
Louis
F i n k e l s t e i n ,
President, Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
As p a r t of a people which has bo rne the t i tle of
A m ha-Sefer,
“People of the Book,” American Jewry has been deplorably
backward. No t tha t Amer ican Jews do no t read books. In pro-
po r t ion to ou r numbers we p robab ly furn ish a much larger
po r t ion of the general book read ing pub l ic than any o the r group
in Amer ican life. Bu t it is no t Jewish books tha t we read.
As a consequence, Jewish au thors are discouraged for lack of
patronage, the Jewish book languishes and Jewish ta len t is
directed to non-Jewish fields. T h e encouragement of the pub l ic
is a ma jo r factor in the flourishing of l i terary talent . T h u s we
who tend o the r vineyards, neglect ou r own.
T h e example of Palestine should st imulate us. In a Jewish
popu la t ion one-tenth the size of American Jewry the average
Jewish book in Palestine has ten times as many readers as we
provide.
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