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

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L
e f tw i ch
— H
assidic
I
n f luence s
in
L
iterature
11
London Yeshibah, naturally writes about that kind of Jewish
life which is his background. Abraham Abrahams, who also was
a Yeshibah student, has a characteristic poem called
To a
Yeshibah Student
in his volume of poems published in 1932.
Another London-born Yeshibah student is Hyman Lewis, who
writes poetry largely on themes that derive from his religious
upbringing and outlook. I picked up a fairly recent copy of
the London
Jewish Quarterly,
and my eye was caught by the title
of a poem,
Baal Shem in the Suburbs.
It begins, “I stood in the
buff-washed Synagogue hall.” He heard “the Chazan’s tremolos
dance about his head.” The author is Alex Keller, 22, born in
London, who “studied history at Cambridge, now doing post­
graduate research at Oxford.”
Young people are coming forward, with the new religious and
Hassidic life around them. Hassidism came to England late but is
becoming a force. “Twenty years ago,” writes the Agudas Israel
Bulletin, “no one would have imagined that a transplantation of
traditional Jewish life as we know it would be possible in Eng­
land. It was not only possible, but it was done. Jewish life in
North London has undergone a tremendous change. The old ways
of Yiddishkeit with all its outward manifestations are roaming
the streets of North London. Nor have the other parts of London
been unaffected. Everywhere are products of the change that
Anglo-Jewish life has undergone. It has been shown that the
streets of London could well digest a
shtreimel .”
Hassidism has built a stronghold in London. Since literature
is the mirror held up to life, in another decade we should find
Hassidism reflected to a considerable extent in our continuing
Anglo-Jewish literature.