Page 40 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 34

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
eludes his poem with the admonition that proper use must be
made of the new freedom in America, which he compares to the
fruits of the Garden of Eden. In his description of the Polish
scholar, he depicted the spiritual world of the East European
Jewish immigrants prior to the great migration.
The final poem in the collection, “Bridegroom and Bride, or
the Fate of the Russian Jews,” appears only in the Hebrew with­
out a corresponding Yiddish version. It depicts the tragic end
of two Jewish lovers, a doctor and nurse who are killed on the
battlefield in the Russian-Turkish war. The nurse’s mother and
sister come to St. Petersburg to take part in the funeral, but are
ruthlessly prevented from doing so. After viewing the two coffins
on a bridge over the Neva river, they are hurled by the soldiers
into the waters below.
The poet links this tale about the fate of the Russian Jews
with America in the following fashion. A ten-year old boy is
said to have survived from the luckless family and to have finally
settled in America. In the last part of the poem he is described
as an itinerant peddler plying his wares in the mountains of
Pennsylvania. What happened to this Jewish family and its sole
survivor is viewed as symbolic of the tragedy of Jewish homeless­
ness. It leads the poet to quote in translation Byron’s couplet:
The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,
Mankind their country—Israel but the grave.
Sobel’s book concludes with a prose section entitled “An Open
Protest,” in which he tries to show on the basis of the book of
Malachi that the Bible was canonized after the rise of Christian­
ity. He also elucidates a difficult passage in Targum Onkelos.
Such learned addenda were characteristic of the
maskilim
writers of Sobel’s time.
From New York Sobel moved to Chicago in 1890, where he
resided in the home of his daughter until his passing in 1913.
He continued to teach privately and offered his services in an
announcement in the Hebrew weekly
Ha-Pisgah
to anyone who
desired lessons in Hebrew, English or German. The announce­
ment bore the following signature: “James H. Soble, 617 N.
Wood St., Chicago.”
Following the publication of his
Golden Song,
Sobel continued
his literary activity by contributing mainly to the Hebrew peri­