Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 32

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FRE ID AND BORGERSEN / TH E JEW IS H B R A ILL E L IBRARY
39
Interestingly enough we have a large body of non-Jewish
readers. Although no profound analysis has been made of the
rationale for this, i t is our belief that three principal reasons
are the intellectual quality of the library (which our readers
have been kind enough to praise), the incidence of many more
non-Jewish than Jewish blind, and the increasing interest in
Judaism and the Jews. The Library has in fact introduced Jewish
writing to the blind of all faiths. Our readers keep in constant
touch with us, and some have made us feel tha t our efforts are
in some measure worthwhile. Thus, the late Rev. Wilmore
Kendall of Miami, Oklahoma, said: “One Methodist parson is a
better preacher month by month because of your books.”
The blind, more than others, would agree with students of
the riddle of Jewish survival who have acknowledged the spirit
of the Jewish people and the Jewish book as its noblest expres­
sion. “By his books the Jew stands or falls,” it is asserted; they
are the indices of his triumphs and defeats. When the ill fortunes
of history denied the power symbols of a homeland, a temple
and a government to them, the Jews continued to live by the
all-encompassing significance of The Book. More than one Jewish
historian and social psychologist grappling with the causes
of anti-Semitism have been impressed with the fact tha t cam­
paigns to destroy the Jews are launched in the glare from the
autos-da-fe of Jewish books.
Far more than others, the Jewish blind who had been deprived
of access to Jewish books agonized when the Soviets silenced all
Jewish writers and banned Jewish periodicals and books so that
no Jewish voice could mute the sound of the ja iler’s chains. The ir
letters to us bear poignant testimony that Jewish books are for
our blind, no less than for our sighted, the axis about which both
the sacred and secular life and thought of Judaism and the Jews
have orbited. A concomitant positive fallout has been the fact
tha t virtually no anti-Semitism exists among the world’s blind.
The Library has been their window on the Jews and Judaism.
In 1940 a reader quoted the Divine command to Joshua as
applying to all Jews: “This book of the law shall not depart out
of thy mouth, bu t thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according to all tha t is written
therein.” In answer to a survey, we learned to our surprise that
more than a hundred Jewish blind able to read Hebrew braille