Page 67 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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59
B
e r n s t e in
— J
ew ish
W
riters
in
S
o u t h
A
fr ica
in the Book.
Betty Misheiker charmingly paints the background
of an immigrant Jewish family in her autobiographical
Strange
Odyssey.
The contributions discussed thus far are all in English. But
side by side with English in South Africa, a rich and fruitful
literature has been growing in the Union’s other official lan-
guage, Afrikaans. Here the Jewish contribution has been, for
historical and sociological reasons, smaller than in the field of
English writing.
From the present generation of South African Jews has come
a signal contribution to modern Afrikaans poetry in the work
of Olga Kirsch, who now lives in Israel. Her two volumes of
poetry,
Die Soeklig
and
Mure van die Hart ,
have won high
commendation from Afrikaans literary critics. In addition to
her lyrical poems on South African themes, Olga Kirsch intro-
duced the Hebrew experience into Afrikaans poetry, drawing
on the Jewish heritage for poems about the Sabbath, Passover,
and the striving for Israel.
More recently, Afrikaans critics have hailed another Jewish
talent in the person of Peter Blum, who came to the Union
as an immigrant from Europe and uses Afrikaans so proficiently
that a volume of his poems was awarded a literary prize in 1956.
Blum has published two volumes of poetry,
Steenbok tot Poolsee
and
Enklaves van die Lig.
Both are notable for their fruitful
experimentation with form, for their adroit use of words and
images, and for the legacy of European culture which Blum
infused into them.
Hebrew and Yiddish Writings
Only a small corpus of literature has been created by South
African Jews in Yiddish and in Hebrew. Hyman Polsky, Morris
Hofman, J. M. Sherman and Richard Feldman have published
volumes of Yiddish short stories which portray with varying
effects the South African scene and its Jews, as well as its white
and black Gentiles. Morris Hoffman authored a volume of short
stories in Hebrew, while J. M. Sherman wrote the first Yiddish
novel of South Africa,
Land fun Golt un Zunshain.
While it
does not rise to literary heights, Sherman’s novel succeeds in
depicting the life of immigrant Jews on the Rand in the early
mining days, the labor unrest of the first quarter of the present
century, and the slow emergence of a settled South African
Jewish generation.
David Fram’s outstanding volume of Yiddish poetry,
Lieder
un Poemes,
contains many fine poems of South African interest.
South Africa has also inspired some of the sensitive poetry in
Michael Ben Moshe's two volumes,
Opris
and
In Tog vos Far-
gait.
In the field of historical writing, Leibl Feldman has con­