Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 31

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
6 8
he crossed the whole of the American continent, bringing to city
after city something festive, something profoundly evocative of
our people's spirit.
There are times when, thinking in figurative terms, I see the
literature written by Jews in their own languages, Hebrew and
Yiddish, as a sort of central inner garden around which extend
rows and rows, whole avenues, of plants—the Jewish literature
written in other languages. Sometimes the roots of those plants
are in the garden itself, while their leaves shade great distant
stretches. It may even be that the avenues outside the garden now
occupy more space than the garden.
For many years I was intimately acquainted with the avenue
planted by Jews whose language was Russian. If you wanted to
give it the name of a central, typical writer, you would call it the
Avenue of Shimon Frug. It was rich in poetry, devotion and nos-
talgia, in persistence despite threat and danger; it drew from the
sources and quenched the thirst of many.
In my imagination I see the long, thickly shaded avenue,
which bloomed not so long ago and branched off in many direc-
tions and which I shall call by the name of Heinrich Heine; the
great German
allee
surrounding the Hebrew garden. I t is matched
today by the rich and complex avenue that is more extensive
than any preceding it—that serving the millions of English-
speaking Jews of today, the Avenue, let us say, of Israel Zangwill.
There is a special pathos in these marginal avenues. They are
sometimes imbued with more love and longing than the inner
garden, but with all their blossoming loveliness, they are not of
the garden itself and seem to exist to serve that garden. For many
decades Maurice Samuel served his people with love unequalled
among the writers of his day.
Kohanim,
you remember, must re-
cite a special prayer before they bless the people; they must
praise the Lord “who sanctified us and commanded us to bless
His people Israel with love.” He who is without love cannot truly
function as a priest in Israel. And love seems to be especially char-
acteristic of those outside of the inner garden. Those who are in-
side the garden proper are sometimes actuated by all sorts of
other emotions. It was not preeminently love that motivated
[Ghaim Nachman] Bialik all the time, and certainly not [Joseph
Chaim] Brenner. More often, in their case, it was a leonine roar
of rage or powerful prophetic insight or moral reproach. Love