Page 65 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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SCHULMAN / SOVIET YIDDISH WRITING
57
celebration at the Western Wall. T he au tho r ’s device is simple and
direct: a comparison o f E ichmann’s trea tm en t o f the Jews with the
Zionist trea tm en t o f the Arabs in Israel!
OTHER WRITINGS
Poetry occupies an im po r tan t position in the Soviet Union’s
only Yiddish-language jou rna l . T he major Soviet Yiddish poets
were, o f course, m u rd e red by Stalin; and the most prom inen t o f
those who were left have em igrated to Israel. What poetry is
published now has a distinctly mediocre quality tha t does not
compare with the still good quality o f the prose. An importan t
poet to appear was a Russian, Aleksandr Belousov who learned
both Hebrew and Yiddish and wrote deeply moving Yiddish
poems. Apparently he was induced to write a poem against em i­
gration to Israel (
S.H
., 1976), bu t recently he has no t appeared in
the pages o f the jo u rn a l .9
T he most impo rtan t critics and literary scholars are Aaron
Rasskin and Hersh Remenik. T he former applied fo r an exit visa
— and his contributions abruptly ceased. Remenik has often
taken exception in his essays to the official literary criticism o f the
Stalinist period; however, he too is relentless is dem and ing time­
liness and topicality.
In a recen t article in
Sovetish Heimland
(no. 10, 1978), Aaron
Vergelis recalled tha t his jo u rn a l had issued repea ted calls fo r a
dialogue between Soviet Yiddish writers and those Yiddish writ­
ers living outside the Soviet Union. He complained tha t the sum­
mons has been ignored because the Yiddish writers abroad could
not rise above the ir class depravity and demonstrate the ir respon­
sibility fo r the fate o f Yiddish literature. He then proceeded to
attack Yiddish literature in the West, concluding that, “T he Jew ­
ish nation lives in changed circumstances and it has a d iffe ren t
appearance. L itera ture must m irro r it and proceed fu r th e r along
its traditional path .”
Vergelis apparently came to the United States in February 1979
to tell about the conditions o f the Russian Jews and to p ropagan ­
dize his ideas about the mission o f literature. However, before he
left fo r America, he published an article in
Izvestiya
(Moscow, Jan .
9 About the new Yiddish writers that have begun to publish recently, see I.
Serebriany, “Naye Nemen” (New Names),
S.H.,
no. 9, September 1978.