Page 8 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
2
This is borne out by the singular Jewish reaction to the word
sefer,
meaning “book.” Implicit in the word
sefer
(the book as
product) is the word
sofer,
meaning “scribe,” “author,” “scholar,
“teacher,” “writer” (the producer of the book). The significance
and far-reaching import of
sefer
are pointed up in Solomon
Feffer’s “An Essay in Hebrew Book Lore” (
Jewish Book Annual,
vol. 19). He wrote: “The letters
samek, pe, resh
spell out not
only the word with which the Jewish people is identified par
excellence, but also a long list including the verbs
to count, to
recount, to relate, to reckon, to take account
, and the nouns
enumerator, muster-officer, secretary, scribe, copyist, member of
the class of men learned in the Law, census, number, tale
and
letter”
It is this broader concept of the Jewish
sefer
which inspires
the philosophy and dictates the activities of the Jewish Book
Council of America. Jewish books are not made merely for read-
ing; they are the circulating library of Jewish culture.
II
A perusal of the table of contents of this
Jewish Book Annual
will quickly reveal the character of its configuration. The very
heart of this volume is the grouping of bibliographies of new
books—in English, in Hebrew, in Yiddish; non-fiction, fiction,
juveniles—published during 1961 in America, in Israel, and in
England. Each grouping is the literary corpus of a special geo-
graphic milieu, and also a broad canvas in the Jewish cultural
panorama that stretches from continent to continent. In what-
ever language Jewish books are written, they become a platform
wide enough for world Jewry to stand upon in order to create
the cultural unity which is the very plinth of our historic legacy.
These bibliographies are vital links in such a chain of unity.
The literary anniversaries take cognizance of six colossi in
the realm of Jewish creativity; also of the 100th anniversary of
Kol Mevasser,
the first significant Yiddish periodical. As the
table of contents indicates, the articles cover a wide latitude.
But there is a new component—a filament of continuity—which
has emerged in our editorial policy. Several illustrative examples
will be cited.
In this volume we have Ida Davidowitz’s article on “Israeli
Drama.” In Volume 19 we published Ezra Spicehandler's essay
“The Sabra School of Israeli Novelists” and Ephraim Auerbach’s
paper “Yiddish Writers in Israel.” In Volume 18 Sholom J. Kahn
deals with “Some Younger Poets of Israel” and Jacob Kabakoff
with “Israeli Literature in English Garb.” Israeli literature per-
taining, respectively, to the drama, to the novel, and to poetry
is elaborated in three successive Annuals.