Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 45

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ommendations of the readers. Sulzberger remained a guiding
spirit of the JPS, giving it unparalleled service from its inception
down to the time of his death in 1923.
Further demonstration of the Society’s sense of responsibility
to both authors and the reading public is seen in Miss Szold’s
paper on “How the Publication Committee Does Its Work ,”
which she presented on the occasion of the 25th anniversary cele­
bration of the JPS. In her address she outlined the detailed proc­
ess which each manuscript had to undergo before acceptance for
publication.
In describing the progress of the Society, Miss Szold indicated
that as late as in 1873 a European observer had wondered
whether any publication society in America could stand on its
own feet and whether it “could ever become more than a pub­
lisher of translations of Jewish books conceived and written in
Germany and France.” Yet the JPS was able not only to publish
such works as the American edition of Graetz’s
History of theJews,
but also scholarly works of the calibre of Louis Ginzberg’s
Legends
of theJews
that were produced in this country. During its century
of activity the JPS has assidously devoted itself to the double task
of developing both writers and a reading public of English-
Jewish books. It has pointed to new directions in Jewish pub­
lishing and has served as a stimulus to other publishers to spread
knowledge of the Jewish heritage through books of quality.
II
A news dispatch carried by the New York Times on May 5,
1987, bore the headline, “Yiddish Given More Support By
Gorbachev.” Drawing upon interviews with Aron Vergalis, editor
of the Yiddish monthly Sovetish Heimland, it claimed that Yid­
dish was flourishing in Russia and that as a result of Gorbachev’s
glasnost
policy one could look to an even brighter future for the
Yiddish language and literature among Soviet Jews.
Mr. Vergalis went on to enumerate various projects for the
propagation of Yiddish in Russia, but a careful reading of the
contents of the news report revealed that there had still been no
radical change in the government’s attitude. The study of Yid­
dish is still outlawed in the schools, and as long as this situation
prevails Mr. Vergalis’ claims for any revival of Yiddish culture
must be viewed with caution.