Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

Basic HTML Version

S
t e in b a c h
— I
n tro duct io n
Only those books merit the role of cultural ambassador which
activate the faculties of discernment and discrimination, which
awaken the critical instinct and prod the intellect, which become
catalysts enhancing the reader’s self-knowledge and also open
gateways to tru th and to the pursuit of reality.
I l l
The editors and the Editorial Advisory Board of the
Jewish
Book Annual
were guided by the above criteria in preparing
Volume 22 of our Jewish literary perennial. It would be chimeri­
cal to aver that the picture of Jewish literacy limned earlier
in this Introduction bears more than a coincidental resemblance
to the sad cultural configuration of our contemporary American
Jewish community. We are admittedly more hopeful than san­
guine about the end results being achieved by the Jewish Book
Council to implement its avowed aim “to revive among both
young and old the traditional zeal for Jewish knowledge and
the custom of setting aside time periodically for the reading of
the Jewish classics as well as contemporary works.”
And yet it cannot be gainsaid that some progress is being
achieved. Each succeeding Jewish Book Month, as Rabbi Philip
Goodman’s report in this volume attests, is exercising greater
influence upon Jewish communities everywhere. More Jewish
libraries are being established. Additional resource materials
are being made available by the Jewish Book Council to comply
with the growing demands imposed on us. Hundreds of organi­
zations throughout the country turn to the Council for advice
in programming and especially in sponsoring Jewish book fairs.
Like its 21 forerunners, this volume presents seven bibliog­
raphies—American Jewish Non-Fiction Books, American Jewish
Fiction Books, American Jewish Juvenile Books, American
Hebrew Books, American Yiddish Books, Anglo-Jewish Books,
and Selected Hebrew Books in Israel—which combine into a
formidable affirmation of the vitality of Jewish creativity. These
works, originating in several lands, are added links in the im­
perishable thesaurus of Jewish literature. A glance at the table
of contents will, it is hoped, reveal our aim to pay more than
lip service to our cultural heritage. We humbly anticipate that
what Virginia Woolf calls “the flickering of that innermost
flame” will glow, at least in some slight measure, from the three
candles burning side by side in our trilingual candelabrum.
We trust that by conforming to the architecture of the Jewish
spirit, they may diffuse a bit more light on the pattern of
literary arabesques fashioned by the Jewish mystique.