Page 219 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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Meyer Levin, author of
Compulsion,
expressed the belief that
“the Jewish writer must consider the effect of his work as it
depicts Jewish life.” As long as he writes “truly, in breadth and
in depth, the consideration of public effect will never be incon-
sistent with the production of the best work of which he is
capable,” Mr. Levin said.
Michael Blankfort, novelist and playwright who flew in from
Hollywood, urged Jewish readers and critics to react vociferously
to books that present the Jew in an unfavorable light.
The literary exchange between Israel and America evoked
keen interest. In a session on “Israel-America: Commerce in
Ideas,” Sholom J. Kahn, of the Hebrew University faculty,
maintained that “one trouble with the relations between Israel
and America is that there has been too much commerce—that is,
selling—of ideas, and not enough dialogue about them—that is
real communication.”
Terming Jewish writers the “avant garde of the fighters for
our spiritual unity,” Dr. Emanuel Neumann, president of the
Theodor Herzl Institute, called on them to develop “a cross-
fertilization of cultural influences between Israel and American
Jewry” that would be of far-reaching significance.
Bernard Postal, director of JWB’s Bureau of Public Informa-
tion, pointed out that the establishment of the State of Israel
“has created a more favorable climate for articles of Jewish
interest” in non-Jewish periodicals. “Israel,” he said, “has
given Judaism and Jewishness greater importance and new status,
and editors are therefore most concerned with material about
the people of Israel and their fellow-Jews everywhere.”
Conference discussions made it clear that if national Jewish
organizations which publish magazines, books and pamphlets
and program materials are to enlist the services of talented
writers, they must reappraise the demands and limitations they
set upon these writers.
Freedom of expression was demanded by writers of varying
viewpoints. Dr. Trude Weiss-Rosmarin pointedly asked: “What
have we come to when a critic cannot voice an opinion, substan-
tiating it with very good evidence, without running the risk of
being starved out of his integrity as a critic?”
Charles Angoff deplored the fact that Jewish journals often
reject good Jewish fiction that is later picked up by non-Jewish
magazines. Julius Schatz called for self-examination and self-
criticism in terms of program materials issued by national or-
ganizations.
Some indication of the character and reputation of the Confer-
ence participants may be gathered from the mere mention of
such names as Louis Golding, British novelist, Marvin Lowenthal
of Brandeis University, Dr. Solomon Grayzel, editor of the
Jewish Publication Society of America, Mamie Gamoran, Louis