Page 9 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JACOB KABAKOFF
Introduction
T
h e
p a s t
y e a r
offered still another contrast between Moscow
and Jerusalem, a contrast highlighted by the international book
fairs held in these cities.
The first Moscow International Book Fair opened in Sep-
tember 1977 under a cloud of distrust and in an atmosphere
of censorship and repression. On the other hand, the eighth
Jerusalem International Book Fair, arranged during April 26—
May 2, 1977, once again provided a leading forum for open
cultural and literary interchange.
The Moscow event served also to offer a remarkable demon-
stration of the yearning of Russian Jews for books of Jewish
interest. Exhibits were mounted by both American Jewish
and Israeli publishers. The latter were permitted to partici-
pate only after pressure had been exerted upon the authorities
by the Association of American Publishers and the Interna-
tional Publishers Association.
There is much to be learned from the Moscow fair. The
Jewish exhibits were visited by thousands of persons, many of
whom pleaded for books which they themselves could read and
which they could use to teach their children about Judaism.
Large numbers of Jews crowded the American and Israeli
booths and many returned every day. The visitors were not
permitted to purchase books, but the fact that many of the
items disappeared by the end of the fair indicated how deep
was the hunger for information and enlightenment about
Jewish life.
The Moscow experience served to underscore all the more
the role of the book under freedom. In Israel the Jerusalem
fair, which is held biennially, was the largest ever in scope of
exhibition space and international attendance. It attracted
over 1,000 exhibitors from 43 countries, with the largest num-
ber coming from America. That it has come to be regarded as
second in importance only to the Frankfurt International Book
Fair indicates that it has come of age and that it is serving as