Page 38 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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Some important studies dealing w ith the Jewish Khazars have
appeared in recent years. Mention is made of A. N. Poliak's
Khazariah: Toldot Mamlakha Yehudit be-Europa (“The Khazars:
A History of a Jewish Kingdom in Europe," Tel-Aviv , Mossad
Bialik and Massadah, 1951) which contains in te r alia much
valuab le ethnographical material, and D. M. Dun lop ’s compre­
hensive and enlightening History of the Jewish Khazars (Prince­
ton, Princeton University, 1954). Prof. Gershom Scholem’s mag­
num opus on Shabbetai Zevi and especially his recent study of
the “Krypto-judische Sekte der Donme” in Tu rkey15 are of vast
importance.
A comprehensive bibliography of Jewish ethnology and folklore
is a v ita l desideratum. Even non-Jewish scholars in the field are
more and more utilizing Jewish materials, as may be garnered
from the general anthropological manual The Study of Cu lture
at a Distance, edited by Margaret Mead and Rhoda Metraux
(Chicago, University of Chicago, 1953). Here we have ample
Jewish ethnological material from Eastern Europe. B ibliographi­
cal data may be culled from the Yivo Bibliography, volumes I
and II (New York, 1943, 1955), but the diversity and m u ltip licity
of Jewish ethnology and folklore call for a systematic and com­
prehensive bibliography. This should be the common task of the
various academic and cultural institutions in Israel, in the
United States, and in other Jewish centers.
The overwhelming tragedy of European Jew ry during the
Second W o r ld W a r resulted in the exterm ination o f the most
v ita l centers of Jewish learning and culture. A thorough collec­
tion and fu ll investigation of all the genres of the extensive
ethnological and folklore materials in traditiona l circu lation
among both the Diaspora and Israel Jews, have become more
urgent than ever. Unless this task is undertaken soon, the most
valuab le folklore vestiges w ill be obliterated by the passing o f the
old genuine “tradition-bearers” in Jewish communities the world
over and in Israel, and particu larly by the rap id encroachment
of Western civilization and the inevitable, dynamic assimilative
processes involved in culture change and acculturation.
The greatest folklorist of our age, Professor Stith Thompson,
has recently emphasized that “as there takes place a vast ‘ingath­
ering’ of Jews—a reversed Diaspora—in modern Israel, an un ­
precedented opportunity presents itself to the student of Jewish
folklore. Here is a great laboratory where he can penetrate the
memories of Jews from many parts of the world and see how
much they share in common, and how much they have left
behind them in the long centuries of separation.”16
15Numen, vol. VII, pp. 33 ff.
18 Studies in Biblical and Jewish Folklore, supra, p. 6.