Page 45 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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JACOB FR E ID an d R IC H A R D BORGERSEN
The Jewish Braille Library
T
h e
vo ic e
is
sh o lom
a l e ic h e m
s
.
I t has been resurrected, de­
scratched and re-recorded from an antique Edison reco rd ing -
one of the first ever made of the human voice. Now it is preserved
for posterity, in a unique archive of the Jewish people, as the
introduction to the hi-fidelity, long-playing complete Yiddish
Talking Book,
Tevye Der Milcheger.
This classic is faultlessly
recorded by Ben Basenko and plays for nine and one-half hours.
The one hundred sets of
Tevye
on discs and twenty on tape have
circulated to several thousand Yiddish-speaking b lind Jews
throughout the United States, Canada, Central and South Amer­
ica, Europe, Asia, Australia and, of course, Israel. The more than
two hundred full-length Yiddish Talking Books also include the
masterpieces of Peretz, Raisin, Ansky, Opatoshu, Mendele,
Levick, Glatstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and others. T he son of a
b lind man in Pittsburgh who listens to these recordings wrote:
“I t was the first time I heard my father laugh since he became
blind.”
The free Jewish Braille Library is now forty-three years old.
Its constant aim has been to build an access causeway to their
spiritual and cultural resources for the Jewish blind and partially-
sighted who, un til 1931, were cut off from any bond with the
peoplehood of Israel and the Jewish heritage. At the time, there
was hardly a single line in braille of Jewish interest or content.
There was Shylock, Fagin, Chaucer’s
Canterbury Tales
and the
King James version of
The Bible.
Of postbiblical Jewish life,
thought, fiction, poetry, philosophy or history there was nothing
in braille. For all the Jewish blind knew or could find out, our
people had disappeared into the mists of history after coming
to an end in the judgment hall of Pontius Pilate.
Determined to reunite blind Jewish men, women and children
with K’lal Yisroel, Leopold Dubov, a blind Polish scholar, with
the help of Rabbi Michael Aaronsohn of Cincinnati, Ohio, who
was blinded in World War I, and the National Federation of
Temple Sisterhoods, established The Jewish Braille Institute ot
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