Page 231 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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a b a k o f f
— A
m e r ic a n
eb r ew
el l e s
et tr e s
(Poems and Stories, 1966). Domnitz’s poetry articulates the strug-
gles and disappointments of a sensitive spirit, while his short
stories, several of which reflect immigrant life, deal essentially
with lonely, unfulfilled people.
Hebrew Prose Writers
The field of American Hebrew prose represents a much later
development than that of poetry. Traditionally, the number of
novelists and short story writers has always been smaller than
that of the poets. Even if we begin with the late Isaac Dov Berk-
owitz, who was an active influence in American Hebrew letters
during World War I and the 20’s, we find only some ten writers
who cultivated this area.
The earlier prose writers, like Berkowitz, Abraham Soyer and
L.A. Arieli, remained strangers in America and retained a senti-
mental attachment to the Old World. The first among the
prose writers to describe realistically characters on the American
scene was Abraham H. Friedland, who also published two vol-
umes of poetry.
A unique contribution to prose writing was made by Simon
Halkin in his novel
A d Mashber
(Towards a Crisis, 1945). In
loose narrative fashion which made use of the stream-of-conscious-
ness technique, Halkin described Jewish life in New York in the
late 20’s. Implied in his psychological treatment of his characters
is a questioning of the direction of American Jewish life. The
novel probes deeply into the spiritual problems of American
Jews and their ideological orientation.
Last year American Hebrew prose writing sustained a severe
loss in the passing of Reuben Wallenrod (1899-1966) who, over
the years, made the most fruitful contribution in this area.
Jewish immigrant life has had many portrayers in both Yiddish
and American Jewish literature. Wallenrod, too, illumined many
facets of this life with understanding and sympathy. The most
“American” among Hebrew prose writers, he gave us two full-
length novels as well as collections of short stories. His first novel,
K i Fana Yom
(The Day Wanes, 1946), which he himself trans-
lated into English under the title “Dusk in the Catskills” (1957),
paints a vivid picture of hotel life and depicts the disillusion-
ment of a Jewish immigrant farmer who turned to hotel keeping.
A second novel,
B ’Ein D or
(Lost Generation, 1953), treats the
problems of adjustment of postwar Russian-Jewish immigrant
youth to America. In his short stories Wallenrod aptly delineated
the conflict between the older immigrant generation and their
children whose Jewish loyalties had become attenuated. His last