Page 41 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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Jew ish State and Jew ishness in a secu lar world. Th is issue has
p lagued Jew ish awareness since the Haskalah period . Ear lier
Hebrew literature to which Israeli literature is heir, repeated ly
portrayed young men breaking away from the Jew ish tradition ,
often from the yeshiva, through their strugg le with fathers and
father-figures , rabbis and teachers. It was the father who re p re ­
sented the world o f ideas and ideology. Som e Israeli writers still
strugg le with fathers over tradition. Bu t more often that not, the
strugg le o f the Israeli writers o f the sixties and seventies has been
with the Zionist fa thers who have brough t them to a land where
they must constantly face war and death. We see this clearly in the
writing o f A .B . Yehoshua. It is evident also in the poetry o f
Yehuda Amichai. Amichai o ffe r s us a p arad igm o f what we will
find in fiction. T h e poet denies the tradition o f his beloved father
because, in spite o f his faith in God, the father could not protect
his children from the ravages o f war in this biblical land.
While the son strugg le s with the father , the mother is re p re ­
sented in much o f Amichai’s poetry as the warm, protective,
traditional woman. “My mother baked the whole world for me,/in
sweet cakes./ H er love filled my window/ with raisins o f stars/ And
the yearnings closed in me/like bubbles in a loa f o f b re ad .” Mother
fills the child’s world with sweetness and warmth creating in the
adult yearnings for the sweet cake o f childhood which the lover
will someday satisfy. She is the alternative to the war reality. “Th e
body o f the woman hiking near you/Was not meant for hikes and
wars./ H er thighs become heavy./ They are like a tired herd o f
sheep./You are filled with great happiness./ For the world where
women are so .”
Mother then, is not the ideological fulcrum o f the writer’s
consciousness. She might, as in ano ther o f Amichai’s poem s, lift
her hands as an old windmill in Quixotic defiance to cry out to the
Heavens, but she doesn ’t translate this into ideological furor .
Rather, she continues in her domestic tasks p rep ar in g bread ,
measuring the world by her family’s attentions, their pictures and
We see this traditional portrayal o f woman in many works o f
contemporary fiction as well. In the p anoram a o f figure s in the
late Yaakov Shabtai’s “Past Con tinuou s,” T z ippo rah stands out as