Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

Basic HTML Version

I N T R O D U C T I O N
B
y
A
l e x a n d e r
A
l a n
S
t e in b a c h
A
MOVING human interest story made the rounds when
Ben Gurion visited the United States last March. Although
every hour in his crowded program must have been rationed,
he nevertheless found time to tour New York bookstores and
purchase forty books. The
Saturday Review,
reporting this extra-
ordinary literary excursion, pointed out, “There are more
bookstores in Israel, per capita, than in almost any other country,
especially ours.”
Obviously, the Prime Minister could not resist the siren voices
whispering temptingly out of those books. He must have sensed,
like all genuine book lovers, the tender distillation of wisdom
in the quatrain:
Then a book was still a book,
Where a wistful man might look,
Finding something through the whole
Beating—like a human soul.
This evocation of a rhythmic throbbing in the heart of books,
invests them with a potency and vitality capable of deepening
life's dimensions. We believe with Plato that “Books are im-
mortal sons deifying their sires,” and with Milton that “A good
book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit.” These exalted
sentiments were kept in mind in the preparation of Volume 18
of our trilingual
Jewish Book Annual.
We sought to capture the
cultural undulations that course out of the Jewish consciousness.
We believe the reader will discover a stirring Jewish awareness
as the common matrix that has inspired all the materials in
this volume.
Marvin Lowenthal’s lively discussion of Jewish libraries
sounds the keynote for this
Annual
. Indeed, it embodies the
raison d’etre
of the Jewish Book Council of America: to em-
phasize the centrality of books in the destiny of our people.
Harry M. Orlinsky leads us down the silent corridors of our
venerable past with selected books on Biblical history and
archeology.
Poetry, art and drama are represented, respectively, by Sholom
J. Kahn’s analysis of Israeli younger poets, Alfred Werner’s
comments on writings of Jewish artists, and Sol Liptzin’s survey
1