Page 8 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

Basic HTML Version

J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
2
articulate. Their works were proliferating, and lest the masses
be contaminated, drastic action was deemed imperative. Books
are useful; books are necessary; but only as they serve the Soviet
hierarchy. Consequently, a special commission was set up to
implement ideological control, and its first act was a summary
warning to all writers to mend their “erring ways.”
T h e arresting distinction between the totalitarian and the
Jewish attitudes to books is pointed up in a
London Jewish
Chronicle
news item emanating from Jerusalem. It reports that
a 300-page illustrated history of the Jewish people in the Land
of Israel from the time of the Patriarch Abraham to the present
day will appear in 1964. Mr. Ben-Gurion as chairman of the
project is contributing a section on the modern period. T h e
late lamented President Yitzhak ben Zvi was at work on a
chapter dealing with the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1915.
Four editions w ill be published simultaneously—in Hebrew,
English, French and German.
These two diametrically opposed roles played by heads of state
tell a significant story, and it is patent which role the Jewish
Book Council strives to emulate. The present Volume 21 of the
Jewish Book Annual
clarions the affirmation of its twenty pred-
ecessors that the Jewish cultural tradition is more than a written
extension of the Jewish heart and the Jewish psyche; it is a
never-ending Vocation. Culture (Torah in its widest connota-
tion) is the key that unlocks doors to a man’s deepest self out
of which he mines spiritual and intellectual ores to be alchem-
ized into values that enhance the meaning of life. It is not a
luxury; it is a coercive monitor, a sine qua non for triumphant
living.
Rarely is a patch of ground completely barren. If it does
not hold flowers and clans of grass, there w ill be weeds and
ugly stubble. T h e little patch of loam called man is subject to
the same law. If left uncultivated, weeds of ignorance w ill
abound. It is hoped this Annual may sow a seed or two for
readers striving to expand their cultural frontiers.
II
Culture is a lantern which silhouettes a pathway leading from
darkness to light, and from light to greater light. T h e editors
and the Editorial Advisory Board bore this maxim in m ind in
deciding upon the table of contents for this volume. Basic,
indeed indispensable in filling in this silhouette, are the seven
bibliographies of new books that testify to Jewish cultural ere-
ativity along an unending continuum. Our sages pointed out
that Aaron and David deserved and received, respectively, the