Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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BUTOVSKY / A.M. KLEIN
29
ern Jewish history. All of his contributions were guided by a
conviction that the new generation of English-speaking Jews
had to be informed about the contemporary relevance of their
ancestral culture, that they had to be made to realize that their
Judaism was not a fossil from the past that could be discarded,
but that it offered the only basis for a dignified and independ­
ent existence within a threatening world.
To this end his writing commented on the significance of
the Jewish holidays, commemorated literary and religious fig­
ures, extolled the Zionist endeavors, and drew attention to the
various communal functions which furthered the cause of na­
tional identity. His editorials are eloquent signposts through the
darkest years of the war, expressing the mounting shock and
horror to the unfolding tragedy of European Jews: the wid­
ening snare of Nazi-occupied Europe; the hypocritical perfidy
of the Stalin-Hitler pact; the closed-door immigration policies
of the western powers; the imposition of the White Paper re­
strictions on Palestine; the terrible revelations of the death
camps and the unimaginable murder of six millions.
Painfully, with a growing sense of outrage and helplessness,
Klein informed his readers of these dire events and imparted
to them his faith in the eventual triumph of righteousness. Vin­
dication came with the rebirth of Israel which, for a lifelong
Zionist like Klein, took on near-apocalyptic dimensions and he
celebrated the advent of statehood in many essays as marking
a new chapter in Jewish history.
The companion volume to
Beyond Sambation
was the collection
Literary Essays and Reviews
(1987). Like the previous volume this
too was culled from his writings in the
Chronicle,
bringing to­
gether his book reviews, literary criticism and research schol­
arship. The scope of the essays encompasses Jewish literature
and folk culture; the Bible; Canadian, American, European and
English literature; and the writings of James Joyce. All are
marked by Klein’s erudition and critical good sense. The essays
devoted to Jewish themes are fully consistent with the urgency
of his political editorials; these too are meant for an audience
in danger of losing touch with their rich inheritance. They seek
programatically to inform and to restore, to convey to his read­
ers the idea that the writings in Yiddish and Hebrew, ancient
and modern, are worthy of the same appreciation as bestowed
upon the classics of western literature. His reflections on the