Page 107 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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i ptz in
— K
asr ilevke
Death is not the end of life but merely a surcease from aimless
activity. On the cemeteries the dead lie in more beautiful homes
than they knew on earth, surrounded by green shrubs and bios-
soming trees on whose branches little birds hop and chirp. Rela-
tives, visiting the departed, pour out their sorrow-laden hearts
and plead for intercession with the Supreme Righter of all
wrongs. A daughter laments to her sainted mother that there is
insufficient tuition money for the boy’s preparation for Bar-
Mitzvah. A wife complains to her departed father about her
husband who has turned into a charlatan and squanders his last
pennies on books to nourish his mind and not on food to sustain
his body. Another wife conveys a
to her husband in
the other world on the approaching marriage of their first
daughter. At the same time she also asks his advice how to raise
the money for the wedding and the dowry, since a respectable
bride has to be endowed and the community invited.
The Stability and Soundness of Kasrilevke
There is stability and soundness in the soul of ragged, quaint
Kasrilevke. American Jews, enamoured of modernism with its
haste and raucousness, its autos and airplanes, are far less healthy
and far more unstable than Kasrilevke’s Jews, who stand aside
from the mainstream of so-called progress, lost in dreams of
eternity, brooding over absolute moral values, enchanted with
their ancestral ways. It is true that news of events beyond the
immediate locality drifts to Kasrilevke a month or a year late,
garbled and second-hand. Yet its Jews in the remotest hamlets
feel responsible for injustice anywhere in the world and react
vigorously and unselfishly. Kasrilevke feels the pain of all man-
kind, even though mankind is not interested in Kasrilevke. If
the English oppress the Boers, Kasrilevke trembles with rage:
“Why should the English hurt a poor people which disturbs no
one, a people which merely wants to plough its land in peace?”
Kasrilevke demands an answer from the world, but the world
brushes it aside. Kasrilevke is the world’s stepchild.
Despite disappointments, however, Kasrilevke never doubts
that right and justice will ultimately prevail in God’s universe.
If facts seem to point otherwise, facts must not be believed. In
the Dreyfus case, for example, Kasrilevke’s Jews refuse to accept
the miscarriage of justice as final. They adore Zola as God’s
emissary on earth because he champions justice. Were he to come
to Kasrilevke, they would carry him on their hands as a precursor
of the Messiah, prince of the House of David destined to usher
in the final era of universal justice.
Kasrilevke’s Jews may wear gray, shabby and unstylish clothes,
but their souls are colorful, gay and alert. When assailed by
severe trials, these simple folk wipe away their tears and strike
up merry tunes. They find comfort in scriptural admonitions,
and rejoice in God’s sunlight that floods this beautiful earth.