Page 112 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

Basic HTML Version

106
JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
the land of his longings. Twelve years later he made another
abortive attempt to settle in the Land of Israel, and he again
decided to abandon his plan: He was unable to exchange histori­
cal exile for social exile. Between his two trips he wrote the playlet
Eastward
— an autobiography in miniature. The protagonist of
the playlet, Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav, decides to settle in the
Holy Land. Like his ancestral predecessor, Baal Shem Tov, he
fails in his attempt. Sackler dramatized both failures — that of R.
Nahman in a playlet, that of Baal Shem Tov in a story. Though he
believed that personal salvation was not only a possibility but a
duty, he and they before him did not take roots in the Holy Land
on the first and second attempt. Their lives were passed in exile,
their lives were filled with the dream of return. And a dream it
remained and “the tree of salvation” was planted outside the land
of salvation.
The literary and professional life of Sackler differed from
other Jewish writers: he wrote in three languages — Hebrew,
Yiddish, English — and earned his living as a communal official.
An attorney by profession who did not engage in the practice of
law, he used his legal knowledge in the service of the Jewish
community in New York. As secretary of the
Kehillah,
an urban
federation of Jewish community organizations which succeeded
in eastern Europe but failed in the United States, as staff member
of the Zionist Organization of America, as administrative secre­
tary of the Jewish Education Association and as executive secre­
tary of the Brooklyn Jewish Community Council he performed
useful work in the New York region. In his long association with
the Joint Distribution Committee — first as a member of its
executive staff, then as one of its public relations officers — he
exercised his abilities with a firm grasp of communal problems.
L ITERARY WORK
But Sackler’s real love was literature: It enhanced the busy
years of his life and it began with a massive onslaught on the
Yiddish, Hebrew, English periodicals and newspapers in the
United States. Lyrical poetry
a la Heine
in Hebrew, realistic fiction
in Yiddish and essays in English which resembled feuilletons in
European journals dominated his output. Quantitatively Yiddish
exceeded his literary contributions in Hebrew and English; the
Yiddish press offered wider opportunities of publication for a