Page 402 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
ecutive Board and by an ad hoc Book Review Project Committee
headed by Dr. Solomon Grayzel. As originally conceived, the
major purpose of this periodical was to encourage the reading
of books of Jewish value, thereby creating a renaissance of Jew-
ish culture in America, and to preserve the literary traditions
of the destroyed European Jewish communities. An ancillary
aim was to direct leaders of the Jewish organizations whose pro-
grams include book reviews to meritorious Jewish books and to
ways of interpreting the Jewish aspect in current popular books.
The publication was projected as an aid to book reviewers and
to Jewish leaders who would use it as a guide in the selection of
books for review. Tentatively titled
The Jewish R ev iew er ,
it was
to cover Jewish books in English, Hebrew and Yiddish and to
present literary news.
The original principles agreed upon are still in vogue with
one exception: after several years the increased output of Judaica
and the heightened interest in these specifically Jewish books
led to a discontinuance of reviews of popular general books even
when a Jewish message might be derived from them.
The first number of
In Jewish Bookland,
under the editorship
of Dr. Mortimer J. Cohen, was written entirely by him and Dr.
Grayzel. Even though only 3,000 copies of four pages were printed,
it marked a significant development in American Jewish letters.
As the existence of this periodical became known, requests for
subscriptions were received from numerous individuals and or-
ganizations. By 1947, 3,000 individual requests to be placed on
the mailing list had been received. Now published as a cultural
supplement to
The JWB Circle, In Jewish Book land
has a cir-
culation of 19,000. The size has increased considerably as has
the number of contributors. Indeed, a panel of over one hun-
dred reviewers, among them many of America’s leading Jewish
scholars and literary personalities, write for the periodical in
their special areas of competence.
The merger in 1950 of
In Jewish Book land
and of the National
Jewish Music Council’s
Jewish Music N o tes
The JWB Circle
evoked a mixed response. Opponents of this arrangement stressed
the loss of identity and the limitations of space allotment. Con-
versely, those in favor pointed out the substantial economies
thereby effected, the larger reading audience gained among
influential lay leaders, and the complete autonomy maintained
by the editors. This situation is still a subject of discussion.
A serious problem confronting the editors is insufficiency of
space to publish lengthy reviews and to print them reasonably
close to the publication dates of the books. To meet this situa-
tion, at least partially, two enlarged issues appeared during the
past two years which helped to clear up the backlog of reviews.