Page 94 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
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B
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at the same time he is deeply attached to oriental Jewish tradition,
legends and morals. Whenever the soul is in collision with tradi-
tion, Burla sides with his hero and not with tradition; surely not
with ruthless fate. The cleansing effect of sufferings is a recurring
motif in Burla’s stories.
World War I constituted the “great divide” in young Burla’s
life, when he was mobilized into the Turkish army. The war and
the vicissitudes of the Yishuv under the vicious Turkish rule made
an indelible impression on his mind. After the war he left for
Damascus where he served as director of the Hebrew schools for
the Zionist Organization, and learned at close range the life of
the Syrian-Jewish community. With the establishment of the Jew-
ish State, he headed the Department of Information and Press
in the office of the Minorities Ministry. Later he worked for the
Ministry of Education.
His second story,
“Bli Kochav”
(W ithout a Star), describes the
love of a young Bedouin for the daughter of a sheikh, an enemy
of his tribe, who destroyed his family and took him prisoner as
a child. Love is stronger than death, and the young Bedouin mar-
ries his beloved, but the tyrannical sheikh takes frightful revenge;
in the end he kills his daughter and her two children, and they,
in turn, are avenged when the sheikh and one of his sons fall by
the sword.
Ishto Hasnuah
(His Hated Wife) is Burla’s first novel, deal-
ing with the life of a Sephardic Jewish family from Morocco living
in Old Jerusalem. Massuda Hadded, a poor widow, rules the
life of her son Daud, and is determined to marry him off to a
homely orphan girl, Rachel, from Hebron. He fatalistically mar-
ries the unloved woman and grows to hate her more and more
despite successful business transactions. The novel ends in stark
tragedy with Daud’s two sons turning against him, while Rachel,
who loved her husband dearly, never wins his heart. Neither the
riches nor the two sons can fill the emptiness of her life.
On his return to Damascus Burla sent Brenner the manuscript
of his novel
Ishto Hasnuah.
He never received a written opinion,
but he learned later that when a Haganah party entered Brenner’s
room and found his body and those of his friends after the Arab
massacre, pages of Burla’s novel were strewn all over the floor,
and on some of them were blood stains. Brenner remained a beacon
to Burla, who continued to admire him for his deep devotion to
the Jewish people, and for the intensity of his literary existence.
Many years later he said about Brenner:
He lived in the world of literature like an old Talmudic
scholar in the world of the Torah , not only in the sense of
thinking about it day and night but also in the sense of litera­