Page 38 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Are forcefully written,
To demonstrate truly,
How glorious and important
Is Jewish poetry.
The Holy Tongue,
Is the only thing
Which does wonders for us.
When this tongue flourishes,
The Israelite knows
He has courage, pride and fortitude.
The name of the publisher is listed in English, as well as in
Yiddish, as “M. Topolowsky, Book and Job Printer, 112 Canal
Street, N.Y.” Three of the four poems in the volume appear also
in a Yiddish version, in a style heavily tinged with Germanisms.
The opening poem, “The Bee,” contains a short dialogue in
which the author describes his literary purpose. Then follows a
poem of twenty-three stanzas, of six lines each, entitled “Age-
Old Israel.” Here Sobel sings a paean of praise to the Jewish
people and to the Hebrew language, the basis of its existence.
In this language was the Torah given, and in this language the
prophets and poets of old sang their song. Sobel writes in praise
of Hebrew:
They trampled me like the moth,
Burnt me with fire, pierced me with spears.
Yet always, I revived like the phoenix,
Breathing life’s spirit in my holy tongue.
THE POET SURVEYS JEWISH H ISTORY
The poet surveys Jewish history and takes Christianity to task
for fostering persecution. He links the rise and fall of countries
like Spain and Portugal to the fortunes of the Jews and the
Hebrew language in their midst. In the modern period, he
asserts, Germany declined together with the Hebrew language,
while France emerged as the symbol of freedom and equality.
Finally, Sobel turns to the detractors of Hebrew from both
among the Orthodox and the Reform, and adjures them that
their future is linked with the fate of the language:
Blessed by you, who respect your ancestral tongue . . .