Page 43 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
REFERENCE BOOKS
The yearly crop of reference books and learned society publica-
tions which is normally produced in this country is indicative
of the fact that Jewish learning, despite the war conditions it has
to contend with, is maintaining its own position with dignity.
The eighteenth volume of the
Hebrew Union College Annual
(Cin-
cinnati, 1944) is among the more important of these publications.
I t is rich and interesting in content and reflects fully the charac-
teristic hospitality of the Hebrew Union College. Out of the fifteen
contributions to the volume nine are by refugees from lands of
oppression. The fourteenth volume of the
Proceedings of the Amer-
ican Academy for Jewish Research
(New York, 1944) makes avail-
able some interesting papers which were presented at the sessions
of the Academy. In addition to the various reports, memorial
addresses, etc., the fifty-fourth volume of the
Yearbook of the
Cenfral Conference of American Rabbis
(Cincinnati, 1944) also
presents a number of learned papers. The forty-sixth volume of
The American Jewish Year Book
(Philadelphia, 1944) follows its
beaten track in making available useful information, and the
third volume of the
Jewish Book Annual
(New York, 1944) con-
fines itself entirely to “bookish” matters among the Jews. Rich
in content, and casting much light upon the interplay of ideas
and motives in the communal endeavors of leading factions com-
prising American Jewry, is the volume entitled
The American Jew-
ish Conference
; its organization and proceedings of the first session,
edited by Alexander S. Kohanski (New York, 1944). I t presents
an indispensable source for the understanding of contemporary
Jewish history in this country.
Notwithstanding the large number of titles recorded in this
survey of a year’s output of American books in English dealing
with aspects of Jewish life and literature, it presents a disappoint-
ing record, not only because it fails to register a title representing
a substantial work of durable value in Jewish literature, but also
because of the fact that the most vital branches of Jewish life and
literature — the Bible and the Talmud — which have always in-
spired scholars and writers to draw upon their resources for the
production of new publications are conspicuous by their absence.
This is a sad reflection on the spiritual and cultural character of
American Jewry which seems to have lost all interest in its own
values. A drastic change in this condition is required. Too long
have we allowed others to guard our vineyards. In warning against