Page 137 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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ZVULUN RAVID
Getzel Kressel
On the Occasion o f His 70th Birthday
I
s h o u l d l i k e t o d e s c r i b e
a few aspects o f the personality and
writings o f Getzel Kressel for the English-Jewish reader who may
not be acquainted with his many-sided activity. Kressel is a prolific
writer and an adm irable scholar, whose literary ou tpu t in the
fields of the history o f Zionism and the Yishuv and whose dili­
gence as a researcher o f modern Jewish life and Hebrew letters
and as a bibliographer are most impressive.
T here are but few scholars who are able to equal Kressel in the
extent and scope o f his interests and productivity. I f I were to
compare him to ano ther literary figure in modern times, I would
say that he most closely resembles a versatile figure like Nahum
Sokolow (1859-1936). While it is always dangerous to compare
the unique qualities o f two writers, especially if they lived and
worked in d iffe ren t times and places, it is not difficult in this case
to note a number o f similarities.
I t is noteworthy tha t Kressel began his literary career in the
year in which Sokolow died. In 1936, when Kressel was 25 years
old, he had already acquired a great deal o f Jewish learning. In his
introduction to his collection o f studies and essays, “On Hebrew
and Jewish Booklore” (Safed, Museum o f Printing Art, 1975), he
included some rare personal remarks about his background.
Kressel wrote: “T he Hebrew book and the Hebrew periodical in
general, became a par t o f me in my early youth. Those days
passed long ago. They seem far away. In the foreign atmosphere
in which I lived, the Hebrew book was my only refuge. I tu rn ed to
the Hebrew book when I felt depressed and abandoned, and the
Hebrew letters warmed my heart. Even today, when I come upon
the books or pamphlets o f those days, they awaken in me the same
feelings I had for them many years ago. They, the Hebrew books,
paved my way to Israel. At first, I invested in them all o f my
dreams, but at an early stage o f my life, when I came to Eretz
Israel, they helped me to bring my dreams to realization.”
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