Page 100 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
vocal and visible. T h e books o f Jewish pho tog raphy which app ea r
between 1968 and 1978 feed this assertiveness. Bu t they feed it
awkwardly, with tragic evocations which hard ly still g r ie f fo r the
past and concern fo r the fu tu re .
SHTETL LIFE
Two subjects dom inate: the life and dea th o f Eu ropean Jewry;
and the State o f Israel. A significant num be r o f pho tog raphs o f
E a s te rn E u ro p e a n Jew s a re im ages o f
shtetl
life ta k en by
Menachem Kipnis, A lter Kacyzne — both killed in the Holocaust
— and Roman Vishniac, now the elder statesman o f
shtetl
pho tog ­
raphers , and the crea to r o f
Polish Jews
which first appeared in
1947 and has often been rep r in ted since. T h e focus o f this mas­
terfu l trio was on Yeshivah students, street pedd lers, the elderly
and devout; and they con tribu ted immeasurably, if un in ten tion ­
ally, to the cu r ren t voguish, sentimentalism abou t
shtetl
life: it is
h a rd to imagine tha t the stage and screen p roduce rs o f
Fiddler on
the Roof
did not at some po in t immerse themselves in the work o f
these image-makers.
But, as Lucy S. Dawidowicz pointed ou t in an essay on “Pictures
o f the Jewish Past,”1 the ru ra l and pious poverty which is rep ro ­
duced in such books as Abraham Shulman’s
The Old Country
(New
York, 1974) and in countless pictorial histories o f Israel is only
one aspect o f Eastern E u ropean experience. I t had its u rb an and
cosmopolitan side, which was at least as im po r tan t and as Jewish.
It is this outward-facing side o f Jewish life which is given p rom i­
nence in
Jerusalem ofLithuania
(New York, 1974), a copious visual
history o f Vilna, and
Image Before My Eyes
by Lucjan Dobroszycki
and Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett (New York, 1977) which
shows the variety o f Jews who lived in Poland and narra tes the ir
history in eloquent detail.
In contrast to the visual atten tion paid to Eastern Jewry, in te r ­
est in Western Jews and in Sephardim has to da te been scant.
Lloyd P. G ar tne r has assembled some Riis-like images o f English
Jewry in
The Jewish Immigrant in England, 1870-1914
(London,
1973). Franz H ubm ann ’s
Jewish Family Album
(Vienna, 1972; Bos­
ton, 1975) shows us French , English, Dutch, Austrian and Czech
Jews stylishly dressed and neatly posed before the ubiquitous
1
Commentary,
vol. 60 (October 1975), 64-68.