Page 242 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

Basic HTML Version

J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
2 3 6
of Bible and archeology at the Hebrew University, and his
activities in the field of youth leadership have equipped him to
do great things.
“From both of them we expect many years of further con-
tribution to the edification and delight of our youth.”
A lef K a tz
Yudel Mark, speaking on behalf of the judges of the Harry
and Florence Kovner Memorial Award for poetry, said: “For
forty years Alef Katz has devoted himself to Yiddish poetry, and
D i Emesse Chasuneh
(Some Wedding) is his eighth book. The
others also have playful, narrative and charming names and their
contents match the names.
“Alef Katz comes from what we Jews from Lithuania call
Volin which includes all of South Russia, the Ukraine. For us
northerners, Volin was somehow related to bluer skies and more
fertile soil. The greatest figure from Volin in Yiddish literature
was Sholem Aleichem and something of Sholem Aleichem’s mood
is present in Alef Katz’s poetry.
“Alef Katz sings of existence and to existence. Faith in life
pervades and permeates his work, and this is much more pro-
found than the famous Jewish hope which is sometimes wishy-
washy.
“Every poet’s instrument is the word. Alef Katz is in love with
words. He is immersed in a word game. And what game that
people play is finer and gentler than a game of words? During
the years of his literary activity Alef Katz continually probed
deeper into the mystery of the word. A word is not only a sym-
bol; it is something in itself. A word is a word. It can be
the seed from which a whole story may sprout. A word is
also like an unlit fire which once lit, ignites us. Every word
is a whole garden of meaning, intimation, interpretation and
mystery. Alex Katz is very much at home in this garden. Like
Rabbi Akiba in the legend he comes to no harm in the garden
because he is armed with images and fantasy, has a good ear
for sounds, always has a half smile on his lips, and this forgiving
and wise smile is armor against all the troublesome arrows of life.
“The central poem of his most recent book is a short play in
seven scenes called ‘Some Wedding.’ In this title ‘some’ has both
humorous and satiric implications. Is our whole life with its
tumult and vanities not ‘some wedding’; and is not our Jewish
life ‘some wedding’?
“To Alef Katz’s wedding come eleven and twenty uninvited
guests. They are small, sour, cranky silent imps, actually unim­