Page 162 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and labor camps and who recorded his ordeal of long martyr­
dom after arriving in Israel.
Kerler’s third book of lyrics to appear in Israel,
Di Ershte Zibn
Yor
(1979), eschews tones of gloom and protest. It expresses
ecstasy at his rebirth in Israel, despite the difficulties he en­
counters there. But memories of the past still haunt him. His
fourth book of lyrics,
Himmelshaft
(1986), avoids memories of
Soviet horrors. He smiles amidst tears, calmly accepts aging and
illness, and is happy with heavenly rainbows after his stormy
years.
Kerler was followed by a galaxy of Soviet Yiddish writers,
who arrived in Israel in the early 1970’s, as soon as the long
barred gates were temporarily pried open. Most of them settled
in Jerusalem. They included the poets Ziame Telesin, Rochel
Boimvol, Meir Kharats, and the novelist Eli Schechtman.
Jerusalem had until then been less important in the devel­
opment of Yiddish literature than was Tel Aviv or even Haifa.
Its finest Yiddish lyricist Rikudah Potash had been no less lonely
there than the Expressionist German poetess Elsa Lasker-
Schiiler, now esteemed as a classic in the land that exiled her.
Rikudah Potash had arrived in Jerusalem from Poland in 1934,
but it was only when her collected songs appeared in 1967,
two years after her death, that her literary stature was adequate­
ly appreciated. Another sensitive Yiddish lyricist of Jerusalem,
Malke Locker, had to wait until she celebrated her hundredth
birthday in 1987 before glowing tributes were paid to her by
Yiddish audiences.
Under the dynamic leadership of Kerler and Sfard, the newly
arrived writers founded the Jerusalem Branch of the Yiddish
Authors’ Association. It fostered the publication of their man­
uscripts which could not appear under Soviet censorship. In
1973, on Israel’s twenty-fifth anniversary, they began with the
publication of
Yerushalaimer Almanack
, a collective volume which
was to call attention to their literary creativity. By 1989, nineteen
volumes of the
Almanack
have appeared. In the first volume,
twenty-two writers were featured, all of them living in Jerusa­
lem. In later volumes, writers from other towns and Kibbutzim
were included and, most recently, even writers from abroad,
as literary journals in the Diaspora became ever fewer.
Prominent among the new Olim from Moscow was the poet
Ziame Telesin. Like Kerler, he had fought as an officer in the