Page 294 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and author programs featuring Leon Uris, Harry Kemelman,
Susan Isaacs, Howard Fast, Elie Wiesel and others.
ACROSS INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES
The JWB Jewish Book Council examined a specific segment
of children’s literature on January 25 in a conference entitled
Jewish Childrens Literature Around the World: Challenges and Pos­
sibilities.
Here the children’s book was viewed as it appears in
translation between different languages and English, between
foreign and American folkways, and between Jewish and secular
culture.
Years ago, books in translation and books about other cultures
were barely accepted by young American readers, according
to panelists Eva Deutsch Costabel, Esther Hautzig and Inge
Auerbacher. The three authors recalled their experiences as
children during World War II and described how they brought
their perspectives on European culture to the attention of
American readers.
Survivors of the Holocaust are not the only Jews whose books
must cross cultural barriers to reach American audiences. Israeli
author Nava Semel, a novelist, playwright and reporter on the
arts, discussed a book she wrote,
Gershona,
about a young girl
growing up in troubled family circumstances in Tel Aviv during
the 1950s.
The broad range of Jewish literature in this country can lead
to arguments about Jewish children’s literature here, too. Dr.
Marcia Posner, the respected librarian, noted a longstanding
debate with an academic colleague who maintains that only
works such as the Talmud and Midrash communicate Jewish
values to children. Citing numerous examples, Posner argued
that books written for Jewish youngsters do an excellent job
of communicating such moral and ethical values as responsibility
to family, respectful behavior, and even a child’s duty to report
a crime, although that report may lead to unfair reprisals.
Shimon Golding of Mesorah Publications, which publishers
the ArtScroll Mesorah Series, echoed Posner’s defense of con­
temporary books written to teach Jewish values. He offered ex­
amples of Art-Scroll books on ethics, the Haggadah, Bar and
Bat Mitzvah, preparing for the Sabbath, and the standards set
by respected rabbis.