Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 4

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this condition the late Solomon Schechter once said: “At present
we recur to works written or compiled by Christian authors. This
must not be allowed to continue. This class of books, which
should have the purpose of imbuing our children with loyalty and
devotion and attachment to Judaism, should be composed by
ourselves. Christian works on the same line will not help us to
bring up our children as Jews. We cannot have our love letters
written for us. We must write them ourselves, even at the risk
of bad grammar.” Notwithstanding arguments to the contrary,
Jews do love the God of their fathers, they are loyal to the teach-
ings of their prophets and sages and they cherish their spiritual
legacy. Indeed, Jews cannot allow their sacred teachings and
spiritual values to fall into the hands of men who know so little
of the role these values have played and of their worth in Jewish
experience. We want to live our Jewish life intelligently and
without any sense of shame or guilt, certainly not in thoughtless
ignorance. There has hardly ever been a time when we were in
greater need of
good Jewish books
than now.
The violence and hatred engendered by the events which lead
up to the present war, by fascism and antisemitism, indeed by
the war itself, have stilled or prevented many Jewish voices, but
a few speak on in an effort to change the misery, frustration and
despair resulting from mass slaughter into hope and confidence
for a better world and better humanity. Why can’t these voices
be heard in English? Why does their pathetic appeal not reach
American Jewry? There is not even an echo of it in the Jewish
literary output of the year. The optimism in which some Ameri-
can Jews are indulging is not warranted when viewed in the light
of the recent tragic experiences of their coreligionists elsewhere;
nor is there any reason for the attitude of cynical hopelessness
on the part of other Jews in America. Jewry is challenged today
with a sober and stimulating fact.
We are living, we are dwelling
In a grand and awful time;
In an age on ages telling,
To be living is sublime.
This is true because ours is an era calling for Jewish adequacy
and such adequacy calls for a creative response to a tragic time.
Where is this response to find its adequate expression if not in
the literature we create?