Page 276 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

Basic HTML Version

2 7 0
research in Jewish subjects. The rabbinate, Orthodox, Conserva-
tve , and Reform, remained the refuge for those serious and
committed to Jewish scholarship. There were some books of
Jewish interest and content, but few were published or distrib­
uted by the general trade publishers, most being produced by
small Jewish publishers, and not a few appear to have been vanity
In such an environment did the first Jewish Book Annual
appear. Moreover, an unusual aspect readily apparent in this
volume was its trilingual format. Nor were the pieces in the
Annual translations of each other, but rather distinct essays in
each language, English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, which would ap­
peal specifically to the interests of those readers. This made it a
unique publication, one without precedent in the history of Jew­
ish publishing or of Jewish literature.
Who were the early optimists? Reviewing the list of members who
made up the National Committee for Jewish Book Week, one
immediately realizes they were not starry-eyed pollyannas, but
were the cream of American Jewish leadership and intelligentsia.
Among many others they included Yiddish authors Sholem Asch,
Halper Leivick, Shmuel Niger and Joseph Opatoshu; Hebrew
writers Hillel Bavli and Zalman Schneour; English writers Elma
E. Levinger and Maurice Samuel; scholars Fritz Bamberger, Salo
W. Baron, Samuel Belkin, Louis Finkelstein, Solomon Grayzel,
Alexander Marx, Julian Morgenstern, and Max Weinreich; re­
ligious leaders Moshe Davis, Leo Jung, and Stephen S. Wise; and
educators Samuel M. Blumenfield, Emanuel Gamoran, Zvi
Scharfstein, and Nissan Touroff.
It is obvious, then, that the most important elements of the
American Jewish community had recognized the immanent
danger to Jewish life. They had taken the unprecedented step of
laying aside so many differences in order to work as a unified
community for the higher goals of increased awareness and
deepened commitment to Jewish values and Jewish survival
through education and Jewish books.
The following year the Committee became the Jewish Book
Council of America and shortly thereafter a formal arrangement
was concluded whereby the Jewish Welfare Board became the