Page 83 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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Abraham Golomb (born 1888), distinguished Jewish educator
and prolific essayist, interpreted the hallowed concepts of the
Jewish religion in terms of Jewish folk-nationalism. He saw
culturally self-sustaining communal life as the primary source
of Jewish creativity and national survival. Golomb created a
series of original concepts with which to interpre t the problems
of Jewish group life and fortify Jewish self-understanding and
self-acceptance.
For Golomb the Jewish little-towns of Eastern Europe were
the primary source of Jewish vitality in recent generations. He
advocated transplanting the essence of
sh te t l
civilization to
present-day Jewish communities since urbanization threatened
the integrity of Jewishness and the survival capacity of Jewry
everywhere.
Golomb’s writings contributed greatly to an awareness of the
psychological nature of Jewish uniqueness, the national character
of the Jewish religion, and the significance of Yiddish culture
as the latest link in the evolution of Judaism. In modern-day
Israel Golomb perceived the primary hope for the survival and
evolution of Jewish tradition and distinctiveness.
T he six Yiddish writers whose contributions to Jewish na­
tionalist thought are briefly characterized above are symbolic
of the range and time-span of Jewish nationalist writing in Yid­
dish. They could be supplemented by literally hundreds of
poets, playwrights, novelists, publicists, journalists, and ideolo­
gists. In terms of both quantity and historic significance there is
no body of Jewish nationalist writing in any language, including
Hebrew, tha t can be compared with that in Yiddish. Despite
the declining number of Yiddish readers, both the quality and
the depth of Yiddish writing have increased remarkably in recent
years. T he creative survival of Jewry, Jewishness and Judaism
in both Israel and the Diaspora has become the passionate ob­
session of Yiddish writers everywhere. We therefore have every
reason to look forward to important new contributions to Jewish
nationalist thought in Yiddish in the future.
GOLDSMITH / JEWISH NATIONALIST THOUGHT IN YIDDISH
73