Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEW ISH BO OK A N N U A L
• one’s relation to, and involvement in, one’s own tradition
with its values and forms;
• one’s relation to, and involvement in, the surrounding mi­
lieu with
its
values and forms;
• the conflict between the generations reflecting the tensions
in seeking a modus vivendi between perpetuating the old and
advancing the new;
• and, at the extremes of the identity conflicts questions such
as intermarriage (dealt with, for example, by Judah Waten) and
conversion and proselytism (a potentially-ripe area till now
scarcely touched).
These are the stock-in-trade, as it were, o f ethnic minority writ­
ers everywhere. An added dimension for the Jewish writer has
been the experience o f the two major events that have changed
the Jewish world so immensely — the Holocaust and the creation
of the State of Israel. These are not, to be sure, highly limelighted
themes. Given the relatively small Jewish population o f Australia,
some 68,000 souls, and the concomitently small number o f writ­
ers overall, this is not wholly surprising. Yet the Holocaust, for
instance, has been the subject o f a number o f autobiographical
novels, most notably Maria Lewitt’s “Come Spring” (1980),
Matylda Engelman’s “Journey Without End” (1977) and “The
End of the Journey” (1979), and Sheva Glas-Wiener’s “Children
o f the Ghetto” (1983), as well as of more factually-structured
memoirs. Where not directly confronted by other writers, the
Holocaust has served as a backdrop to action played out on Aus­
tralian soil, as in some of the writings of Benjamin Jubal, Stan
Marks, Harry Marks and Serge Liberman. What is still in large
measure lacking, however, is the deeper discussion o f issues
thrown up to the modern generation by the Holocaust, questions
relating to God’s existence, mercy and omniscience, questions of
good and evil, of collective guilt and punishment, o f national re­
demption and prophecy; in short, the timeless questions (and an­
swers) that find their inspiration in our traditional sources.
EARLY BEGINNINGS
Literature by Jews in Australia did not, o f course, begin in the
peri-War years. After all, there had been Jews before that time
who had a story to tell; Jews such as Isaiah Reginald Cohen as far
back as the 1870’s, Benjamin Farjeon in a score o f books spread