Page 7 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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I N T R O D U C T I O N
B
y
A . A
lan
S
te inbach
I
I
f ,
after the publication of nineteen volumes, it is still necessary
to justify the trilingual structure of Volume 20 of the
Jewish
Book Annual,
one need but point out that the fabric of Jewish
culture derives its design from the close interweaving of three
separate (though not necessarily disparate) strands: English,
Hebrew and Yiddish. No monolithic linguistic medium is capable
of portraying adequately the diversified streams of thought cours-
ing out of the Jewish mentality.
The essence of Jewish culture is
the totality of the Jewish
psyche in action:
its manifestations, its spiritual vibrations, its
intrinsic qualities, its logic, its indigenous predilections, even
its introversions and idiosyncrasies. What single tongue can pos-
sibly interpret and decode this totality? Its frontiers are too
vast and its circumference too extensive, both in time and in
space, to be compressed within the framework of an exclusive
vernacular. Only through linguistic pluralism—English, Hebrew
and Yiddish in the present context—can an instrumentality be
fashioned to reap the cultural harvest sown by the intuitive,
tutored Jewish mind.
Music, art, the humanities, belletristic achievements impart
values that partake of the very quintessence of culture. They
fructify man’s aesthetic loam, even as nature fecundates the
porous earth with treasures of minerals and chemicals. They
fashion wings to propel man above the desiccating materialism
whose sapless roots burgeon only shriveled branches.
But books are the chief repository of our people’s organic
culture. We must turn to them in order to fathom and com-
prehend the meter and rhythm of the Jewish mind and its postu-
lates. Books unbosom themselves, as though eager to answer our
questions. Their communications are seminal; they leave us more
than we were before consulting them. They add up to an inven-
tory of cultural sculpture hammered out by Jewish mental mallets
for the galleries of history.
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