Page 16 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 17 (1958-1959)

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10
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
Hassidic movement as a “force that deserves an abiding place in
the history of Jewish theology.”
After Zangwill the mantle of Anglo-Jewish writing fell largely
on Louis Golding. In
Day o f Atonement
he has a group of
Hassidim in Galicia, and one of them, Eli, who had come to
Manchester, prayed “with a fervour typical of the Hassidim.”
In his book about the Warsaw Ghetto rising,
T h e Glory o f Elsie
Silver,
Golding pictured a Hassidic wonder-Rabbi telling the
Jews to fight—“the last court the Rabbi held in Poland or any­
where on earth, and the most glorious, lit up as it were by the
light of the Shechina.” Hersey in his book about the Warsaw
Ghetto,
The Wall,
speaks of “romantic Hassidism.” There were,
of course, Hassidim among the other Jews in the Warsaw
Ghetto. Hersey gives us the picture of a Rabbi in
tallit
and
tephilin
going to his execution, saying: “Why do you mourn
and tremble, Jews? We are going to the Messiah! Be glad! Be
glad!”
Their spirit rose above persecution, torture and death. Almost
as marvelous a survival as in Warsaw is that of persecuted reli­
gious Jews and of groups of Hassidim in the Soviet Union, pic­
tured in a novel by one of them, Sabatyon. Lucy Dawidowicz, in
Commentary,
November, 1956, speaks of the way Sabatyon de­
scribes Hassidim who “surreptitiously maintained kosher kitchens
and used the period allocated to Communist indoctrination for
prayer and religious study.”
Hassidic Numbers and Influence
Hassidic numbers and influence have grown greatly in England
during the last few years, as they have also in America. Last
September the
Jewish Chronicle
wrote about “a good many more
shtreimlach
worn by worshippers in London on Rosh Hashonah.
In the streets with orthodox prayer-houses there were dozens
of little boys with
pyot
and
shtreimlach
beside their fathers with
silk
kapotes
and white stockings that made them seem to have
come straight from a Galician
shtetl
or from Meah Shearim. The
Hassidic congregations in North London were full to overflowing.
Not even in pre-war Poland could one see a Synagogue more
crowded or worshippers more devout.”
The numbers are larger, but the phenomenon is not new in
London. Izaak Goller in his novel,
Moses,
pictured Reb Zalman,
the Rabbi, in his Whitechapel Hassidic
shtibel,
and Mr. Moses,
the English-born Jew under his influence, resigning his post as
a teacher in the Jews’ Free School, growing a beard and be­
coming a Hassid. The enhanced Hassidic life in London today
will surely find expression in the printed page. Henry Cohen,
who writes as Roland Camberton and is a product of a North