Page 117 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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I l l
e f tw ic h
— I
sra el
a ngw il l
edgeable of Jewish life and thought and behaviour, and of Jew-
ish ways and belief.
For the Anglo-Jewish reader, and more so for the Anglo-
Jewish writer, Zangwill is important also because he stands for
us as our line of descent, our literary lineage. Even if our angry
young Anglo-Jewish writers should one day surpass and dwarf
Zangwill, they will still have to read him for their guidance.
Heirs must know their tradition, must have a tradition to in-
herit. Otherwise they are not heirs, but parvenus, upstarts.
Quiller-Couch, lecturing to his students at Cambridge “On the
Lineage of English Literature,” told them “that just as a knowl-
edge of his family failings will help one man in economizing
or warn another to shun the pleasures of the table, so some
knowledge of our lineage in letters may put us on the watch
for certain national defects (for such we have), on our guard
against certain sins which too easily beset us.” Our windows
must open to the past—“as Daniel’s did towards Jerusalem.”
For there is something in Zangwill to which the Anglo-Jewish
writer seems to turn instinctively. Somehow Zangwill has been
over the ground before. Not only in Whitechapel. His White-
chapel-born Jews had already begun to move to other parts of
London. His “Grandchildren of the Ghetto” lived in Bayswater
and Maida Vale. St. John Adcock in his book
Gods of Modern
Grub Street
included in Zangwill’s gallery “the rich Jew who
lives in the West,” and placed him as the novelist “not only of
Whitechapel and Aldgate, but also of Hackney and Dalston and
Hoxton.” I t was interesting to read the other day that Helen
Shapiro, the pop singer, told the Press that when she is not
travelling she spends most of her time in Hackney, where she
was born and lives, one of the early outposts of Whitechapel.
The old Whitechapel Zangwill knew has been largely de-
pleted of its Jewish population. Zangwill’s Jews’ Free School
has moved from the Lane to Camden Town, on one side half-
way between Hackney and Dalston and Stamford Hill and on
the other Hampstead and Golders Green and Willesden, all
now Jewish areas. It contains a Zangwill House (and a Brodetsky
House) named after two of its most distinguished pupils. A dif-
ferent kind of foreign element has moved in. The local municipal
council has put up posters in Whitechapel in Greek and Turkish,
as it once did in Yiddish. There are Hindus and Pakistanis and
Arabs and Negroes there too. Yet Whitechapel has not been
denuded of its Jews. A Mrs. Smith in a letter printed recently
in a London daily wrote from a Whitechapel address, “We live
here in a Jewish community.” Chief Rabbi Brodie said not long
ago at the East London Synagogue that “in spite of the many
changes in recent years which resulted in a redistribution of the
Jewish population of London there are still many lews living:
in the East End.”