Page 197 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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bram ow icz
— A
m er ica n
idd ish
Contemporary Jewish life in America and Australia is real-
istically portrayed in several volumes. The same milieu, seen in
the light of humor and satire, is described in the monologues and
sketches of Bessie Holovitz and H. Shishler. Jewish life in the
exotic environment of South America and Africa is reflected in
several collections of short stories.
In the field of poetry one can discern a group of American-
Yiddish poets who are already summing up their literary
achievements. Their poetry is devoted to self-accounting and
soul-searching, and reflects the mood of sadness and resignation
that signalizes ripe age. Another mood characterizes the poems
of Zvi Shargel who came from Poland to the land of his fore-
fathers and found there a new hope and new meaning in life.
The Yiddish poets of Poland—Jacob Zonshein and Eliahu
Reisman—who are isolated from Jewish communities of the free
world and live in an alien and hostile environment, express
their feelings in intimate and subdued tones. Moshe Shulstein’s
Flowers of Sorrow
deplores the fate of Yiddish writers in Soviet
Russia and reflects the bitterness and sorrow of a poet who be-
came disillusioned in his communistic faith.
Epic poetry is represented by the works of several writers.
Joseph Rubinstein’s
Megi l lath Russia
describes the author’s
experiences as a refugee in Soviet Russia and the fate of Soviet-
Yiddish writers. A note of hope and joy mingled with sorrow is
found in the poem of new life in Israel by Berish Weinstein.
Satire and humor predominate in the lengthy work of Wolf
Mercur who sees life as
The Wor ld of Chelem.
and memoir literature is especially rich this year.
Memorial volumes on destroyed Jewish communities are gen-
erally bi-lingual, that is—Yiddish and Hebrew. An important
portion of the
literature consists of memoirs of survivors
of the Nazi catastrophe. The memoir literature of the pre-war
period has been enriched by writings of actors, trade union
leaders, disillusioned underground communists from abroad, and
The philosophic essay is represented in a larger measure than
in previous years. In the fifteen years since the Hurban, there
has arisen the desire to understand what happened, to summarize
and evaluate, and to determine what might be saved from the
past. The problem of the increasing assimilation of American
and West European Jewries, and the relationship of Jewry
of the Diaspora and the State of Israel—these are among the
questions which are conspicuous in this year’s essay literature.
Among works of literary history and criticism were the inter-
views with writers in Israel, by Jacob Pat, and an account of
the last years of life of Soviet-Yiddish writers, by I. Ianasovich.
A contribution to the study of the Yiddish language is Dr. Isaac
Rivkind’s lexicological study of expressions describing various
kinds of “Jewish” money.