Page 52 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
history and fiction. General surveys o f world and French Jewry
have been con tribu ted by Moche Catane and Simon
Schwarzfuchs, both o f whom are now settled in Israel; local stud ­
ies have covered the South o f France and Tunisia as well. In
fiction, there have been translated works by Sholom Aleichem,
O patoshu and Agnon, as well as anthologies o f Yiddish and Is ra ­
eli poetry.
T he popularity o f Presence du Juda ism e is due to the fact tha t
the major cultural organization o f the French Jewish community,
the
Fonds Social Ju if Unifie
(F.S.J.U.), backs publishing as an
im po r tan t activity. T he
Fonds Social
has shown a readiness to
invest money in the production o f books on the Jewish heritage to
a far grea ter ex ten t than profit-orien ted publishers.
SOME LIMITATIONS
T h e market for Jewish books in France is small, and while it has
grown, its scope and fu tu re seem to be inhibited by several
organic factors.
First, information on Jewish topics is poorly channeled to the
public. The general press tends to avoid dealing with topics o f
specific interest to a Jewish audience. T he Jewish press is obvi­
ously not concerned with promoting books. Even if it were, its
impact on the community at large is limited.
LTnformation ju ive
,
the periodical with the largest circulation, reaches only one ou t o f
six French Jews, at the most. The o the r Jewish periodicals ca ter to
the same circle o f community o rien ted people. T h e re is no spe­
cialized publication devoted to Jewish books, such as the
Jewish
Book Annual
or the
Judaica Book News,
fo r example.
T he promoting and marketing o f books o f Jewish interest is not
high on the agenda o f the French Jewish establishment. No Jew ­
ish book fairs are organized by publishers, organizations o r ind i­
viduals. T he Zionist Women’s organization WIZO conducts an
annua l fair, but it is more o f a social event, geared to an elite which
comes to chat with famous writers and to buy a personally au to ­
g raphed copy. T h e re are displays o f Jewish books at major Jewish
gatherings, but these are only a side attraction and never the main
focus o f attention. No membership club for Jewish books has ever
existed in France.
T he book marke t is also limited by dem ograph ic factors. T he
Jewish ratio to the general population is smaller than in the USA.