Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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two children died of lack of food and general exhaustion. Lonely
and himself at the brink of death, the bereaved husband and
father addressed himself to God: “Master of the Universe! Indeed,
you are doing all and everything to make me desert my faith.
Know, then, for sure that, against the very will of Heaven, I am
a Jew and I shall remain a Jew — and all the sufferings You have
inflicted upon me and which you will inflict upon me cannot
change my mind . . . . ”
I t was this kind of Jewish “obstinacy” which made a prominent
Inquisitor complain to the King of Spain (the incident is likewise
recorded in “The Rod of Judah”) that “Judaism belongs to the
incurable diseases . . . . ”
The German Jewish scholars who, in the half a century preced-
ing the victory of Nazism, published critical editions of the medi-
eval records of Jewish heroism, studied this type of literature as
part of a closed era in Jewish history. The events of the past
twelve years, however, have taught us that the measure of Jewish
martyrdom is not yet f u l l .........The time is not yet ripe for a
complete history of the worst Jewish massacre ever — the mass
murder of five million Jews at the hands of the most brutal and
depraved killers mankind has known thus far, but already a large
literature describing the unmentionable horrors endured by the
Nazis’ most pitiful, because most helpless, victims has come to
the fore, ranging from carefully assembled and edited collections
of true and authenticated reports on the atrocities to personal
letters and impromptu accounts of individuals who miraculously
escaped from the Nazi charnel house.
The heroic note, which is so pronounced a feature in the Jewish
literary residue of the martyrdom of ages past, is not missing
from the latest Jewish tragedy either. The valiant “Revolt in
the Warsaw Ghetto,” which already has inspired a large number
of creative works of literature besides having served as a theme
of factual accounts, proves that the modern Jew is in direct line
of succession to his ancestors, who braved “death in the waters
and in the fire” for the sake of their religious conviction.
Tracing the story of Jewish heroism from the Bible to the latest
magazine article on the tragedy of our time, one can feel with
pride with the medieval liturgical poet, who sang:
Throughout the kingdoms of the nations
Who can be equalled to Thy people?
They followed Thee through flame andflood
As none on earth havefollowed Thee.