Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

Basic HTML Version

2
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
necessity. W ithou t it Jewish aspiration and Jewish growth
would become moribund by default.
Beginning with the Bible, the earliest tome in the literary
and spiritual Library constructed by Jewish genius, enhanced
by the Ta lm ud and literary works which enriched the medieval
period, and extending through the creativity of ou r contempo­
rary Jewish writers, the innumerable caravan of History, People,
and Books trekked together through the catacombs of the cen­
turies. I t helped the People to triumph over every vicissitude,
to surmount every obstacle, to cope with every crisis. Th is was
the un in terrup ted saga of Jewish growth.
For the Jew there could be no o ther blueprin t, no o ther
alternative. As is indicated in its etymological derivation, cu lture
is organic. I t grows as a tree grows; therefore, it requires unceas­
ing cultivation. I t is a vibran t corpus which atrophies if deprived
of steady nutriment. T h e Jew recognized this organic aspect of
culture. His intuitive m ind reached out for a world embracing
the whole cosmos. His point of view projected from his circum­
scribed physical ghetto to the whole of humanity. Of such
universals was his Jewish culture compounded.
II
T h e Jewish Book Council of America, striving for the past 24
years to achieve its objective of infusing in both young and old
the traditional ardent zeal for Jewish knowledge through reading
the Jewish classics as well as contemporary works, now presents
Volume 24 of its trilingual
Jewish Book Annual.
Each year the
Council offers its humble contribution of
zedah la-derekh,
“pro­
visions for the journey” of the cultural caravan alluded to above.
A glance at the table of contents will reveal the overall con­
figuration as another link in the Jewish cu ltural chain the
Jewish Book Council of America has been striving to forge
since its incipiency. T h e editors have sought to vitalize the
rub ric propounded by Ahad Ha-am: “Learning, learn ms:, learn­
ing; that is the secret of Jewish survival.”
Leon Shapiro’s article on Yiddish writers and Yiddish book
production in the Soviet Union after Stalin’s death, is an agon­
izing assessment of the lamentable standard of writing in a land
where forced assimilation is official government policy.
“T h e Jew in Postwar German L itera tu re” by Lo thar Kahn
is an illum inating paper which limns the Jew in contemporary
German fiction as “a symbol, devoid of flesh and blood, a victim
before the German executioners and silent victims.” T h e ghosts
of the crematoria somehow p ro trude from the writers’ pens.