Page 162 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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TH EODORE W IENER
Jewish Literary Anniversaries
1 9 8 0
B y
i n a d v f
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r t a n c e
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omitted from last year’s listing the 75th
birthday of Isaac Bashevis Singer, which will have occurred on
July 14, 1979. Respect had been paid to him in the 1974 article
(volume 31, 1973-1974) announcing his 70th birthday. On that
occasion it was pointed out: “A unique place in American
Jewish letters, if not even in American literature in general, has
been carved out by Isaac Bashevis Singer, far beyond the narrow
confines of the ever shrinking Yiddish reading public.” The
recent award of the Nobel Prize for Literature underscores that
judgment.
Another central figure in contemporary Yiddish literature is
Chaim Grade, whose 70th birthday is marked this year. He is
the distinction of having achieved prominence both as a leading
poet and prose author.
This year we observe the 100th birthday anniversary of
Sholem Asch, the most successful Yiddish writer in his genera­
tion. Samuel Niger was the outstanding Yiddish critic. Eliezer
Steinbarg made his reputation by his original fables in Yiddish.
Another Jewish author in America of the recent past is Ludwig
Lewisohn. He was among the first assimilated Jews to search for
his roots and glory in his Jewish heritage when many of his
contemporaries rejected it.
All of these writers in one way or another are indebted to the
chain of tradition in which Isaac ben Joseph, of Corbeil, is an
important link. In his spirit Ben-Zion Meir Hai Ouziel and
Jacob Moses Toledano have carried on. The scholarship that
elucidates the place of men and events in ages gone by is exempli­
fied by men like Salomon Frensdorff, Isaac Hirsch Weiss, Julius
Guttmann, and Shlomo Dov (Fritz) Goitein.
As we pause to commemorate and celebrate their contribu­
tions to Jewish literature and learning, we are made continously
aware of how much our past can teach us.
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