Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
century, was a contemporaneous event in Sackler’s life. The pro­
tagonist Vincent Fettmilch who succeeded in terrorizing the city
and especially its Jews for three years and who was ultimately
hanged and quartered by royal decree was an anticipatory image
— on a small scale — of the brownshirted tyrant whose life meant
death to millions and whose monstrous legacy has bred unimag­
inable disasters. Even Sackler’s dominant pseudonym Zvi ibn
Shalom points to his didacticism, mysticism and contemporary
historicism.
Zvi,
the word for “deer” in Hebrew, also means “be­
auty” and, in extended meaning, is a component for the poetical
name of the Holy Land.
Erez ha-Zvi,
The Land of Beauty, is the
Land of Israel. And
Shalom,
Peace, is an aspiration of the people
which Sackler adopted as his name. The pseudonym, the lying
name, became his true name.
Sackler made various attempts to explain the anonymity of
artists as a paradox of individuals who generally lack the trait of
self-effacement. In his own case he is at a loss to explain — tongue
in cheek — the origin of the pseudonym which hid his immature
identity as the author of a poetic effusion of sixteen lines, a sort of
sentimental vagary about a girl who had to earn a living as a harlot
after the disastrous accident of her father in a factory. And thus
he signed his poetic protest against capitalist insensitivity Zvi ibn
Shalom. In a touching assessment of his work he confesses that
most of the productions of his plays did not please him. Only his
first dramatic attempt
Yukl the Thief
with its ordinary plot —
proletarian revolt against capitalism — gave him great satisfaction
when it was first produced by an amateurish club. The sum total
of his oeuvre may not have pleased him totally. But one must not
take the self-doubting assessment of his own stature too seriously.
When he reached his sixtieth birthday, some of his friends organ­
ized a Sackler Jubilee Committee and prevailed upon him to
publish his eight plays and the playlet
Eastward
— the ones he
translated from the Yiddish and the ones he created in Hebrew.
They hoped — and they expressed their hope in an introductory
note signed by Rose Jacobs, president of Hadassah in the thirties,
and the author of this essay — that he would be encouraged to
translate into Hebrew more of his non-translated plays and create
new plays and stories in his beloved Hebrew idiom. The seven
Hebrew stories which were published in 1948 and which span a
period exceeding two thousand years are the partial fulfillment of
that hope. And so is, to a certain extent, the collection of four