Page 32 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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24
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
the new-born State of Israel. Encouraged by his close friend
David Lewis, a leading figure in Canada’s social-democratic par­
ty, Klein decided to stand as a candidate for the Cooperative
Commonwealth Federation in the national election of 1949.
Though never an active member of the party, unlike his friends
Lewis and F. R. Scott, he became persuaded that his long service
to the Jewish community and his unquestioned intellectual su­
periority over his rivals would recommend him to the largely
Jewish working-class district. The outcome was a bitter disap­
pointment to him; for not only was he defeated by the undis­
tinguished Liberal candidate, but even the Communist contend­
er garnered more votes. This rejection by a constituency of his
own people contributed to his growing sense of himself as neg­
lected and unappreciated by those to whom he was dedicating
his talents.
ZIONIST ACTIVITY
Some recompense for that defeat must have been gained
from his immersion in his role as public-speaker championing
the cause of Israel in the years immediately following the es­
tablishment of the state. Only a year after statehood was pro­
claimed, Klein undertook a journey to Israel, Europe and North
Africa. Later, he was to transmute that experience into his fic­
tional masterwork
The Second Scroll,
but more immediately the
impressions of that momentous pilgrimage which, to his mind,
recapitulated the messianic drama of exile and return of his
people, furnished the material for countless addresses he gave
across North America for the fund-raising agencies in support
of the new homeland. He was tireless in his efforts for this
cause, travelling across the continent, energized by the mission
and stimulated by the enthusiastic audience response to his o r­
atory. But his laudable efforts unquestionably exacted a price
in physical and mental strain. It deprived him of precious time
needed for his serious writing, while the audience response to
his speeches underscored his failure to speak to them in his
poetry.
Whether this strain was of primary or secondary importance
— whether symptom or cause — cannot be easily determined.
What is tragically clear, however, is that by the mid-50s, the
years of his major successes following the publication of his final