Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
4
culture and to the Jewish ethos. These contributors to the
Jewish
Book Annual
for nearly three decades were able to mediate be-
tween the vernacular culture and their distinctive Jewish heritage
without abdicating their responsibility to either. Wholly alien to
them was even the thought of estrangement from the Jewish
community. Their Jewish values never became attenuated. They
participated in the secular culture, but they did not regard it as
a surrogate for their indigenous Jewish culture.
A ll the writers represented in this
Annual,
volume 28, belong
to the above category. The two Hebrew letters
kaph
and
het
which are the numeral designation for 28, combine to form the
word
koah
meaning
strength, vigor.
We avouch the hope that this
volume will become a strong link in the long cultural chain
whose beginning extends back through the centuries to the time
when the Jewish Bible became the religious primer and spiritual
textbook of civilized humanity. This efflorescence of the Jewish
cultural genius cannot be regarded as a fortuitous phenomenon.
Since a people’s literature is the autobiography of its human
aspirations, the passionate Jewish dedication to intellectuality
through the ages must be interpreted as a mission organically
linked with Jewish destiny. Even when the vicissitudes of a
relentless and melancholy fate reduced the Jew to brooding and
weeping, his agonized literary outpourings were steeped in per-
vasive prophetic overtones.
Thus, link after link has expanded the cultural chain be■
queathed from generation to generation. Viewed from this aspect,
Jewish literature is more than a Hebraic microcosm compressed
within the broader macrocosm of world literature. It is not an
“outsider”; it is endemic to world literature. The Nobel Prize
Award for Literature in 1966 to Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Nelly
Sachs attests that both Jewish prose and Jewish poetry attain
dimensions that transcend national and parochial boundaries.
Such recognition by the “majority culture” ipso facto stamps
Jewish culture with the seal of literary universalism. The editors
and the contributors to this
Jewish Book Annual
have been
guided by this wide purview in humbly discharging the responsi-
bility devolving upon them.
I l l
The table of contents reveals the broad spectrum of the topics
selected for Vol. 8. “Censorship of Hebrew Books” by Carmilly-
Weinberger discloses the frequently excruciating obstacles that
had to be surmounted in order to preserve the Jewish cultural
chain intact. Beginning with Pope Gregory IX in 1239, the pub-
lication of Hebrew books was determined by the caprice of either