Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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SOVIV / AMERICAN YIDDISH LITERATURE
41
ishness is marked by ambivalence, and beneath the log ica l
superstructure o f satire and derision, there pulsates an entire
universe o f Jewish emotions. Rosenfeld identifies with the pa­
triarchs, prophets, and Hanukkah candles, and is untiring in
expressing the abundance o f his Jewish affections. H e delights in
paraphrasing the odes o f the prophets and the paeans o f the
Psalter. W ith pride and reverence, he extols the glories o f his
national past. As fo r the present, he participates in his p eop le ’s
anguish and sufferings. How ever, he knows that “ our ship is
strong and eternal,” and will weather all the storms. T h e com ­
mitment to the “ Historic Load ,” to the Bible, will give a new lease
on life to his people. “ On you my flag rests, proud and pure. In
you the spirit o f my peop le is deposited, and my nation will live
again, thanks to you.” 20
T h e Yiddish theater, with the aid o f Abraham Go ldfaden, Jose f
Lateiner and others, was to a large extent responsible fo r keeping
alive the awareness o f American Jewry ’s link with the heroic
Jewish past. Th rou gh the medium o f the theater, the imm igrant
masses became acquainted with plays that extolled the lives and
deeds o f Bar-Kokhba, the Spanish Marranos, and other historic
figures. Many o f the arias from Y iddish operettas became popu ­
lar fo lk songs and stimulated the emotional substrata o f Jewish
awareness. T h e y contributed to strengthening the Jewish loyal­
ties o f the rank and file, and helped in repe lling the logical attack
o f Jewish negativism that stemmed from the radical camp.
20 Quotations from: “Avromele,” “Unser shif,” “Die historishe peklakh,” in
Shriftn,
vol. 1, 1910.