Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 48

Basic HTML Version

charge destroys an innocent dove, so that once again we see
that opposition between peaceful bird and powerful horse. A
Jewish cowboy in Israel seems contradictory to the historical
experience o f Jewry, and He lprin points to the uneasiness o f
even the best equestrian: “he was incredibly sad and though t
perhaps he was wrong to ride ra th e r than reflect. Being in the
saddle was a fearsome thing. And no m atter how natura l it
seemed o r how rough and arrogan t he was he feared deep down
tha t he had succeeded, and fearing his own success he rode
h a rd e r and was more daring and it seemed that he was ex trao r­
dinarily capable upon a horse .” The fall o f the bird results in
the downfall o r breakdown o f the rider, historically conditioned
to the
vita contemplativa
ra th e r than the
These contradic­
tions appea r in the dove with whom Leon identifies, for he
has lived in the same post-Holocaust shade as doves for a q u a r­
ter o f a century o f reflecting more than riding. Leon “was able
to deduce from patterns and shadings in the black and white
the colors he knew so well — a process which signified for him
the dep th o f his life. It was an Eastern dove, not a shock o f
white and pu re line as in the West, bu t many colored, as deep
contradictions ran th rough .” The story concludes with an ep ­
itaph for the dead bird: “when it dies it breaks us apart, for
it never thinks o f itself. But God protect it if it should die alone,
and God protect its poor family.” O rphan and refugee mourn
and pray for survival.
Like Singer, Malamud, and Helprin, Cynthia Ozick is at­
tracted to nuances o f flight, and in “Levitation” she heightens
Chagall’s surrealism. Feingold and his wife Lucy, a pair o f nov­
elists who write “as naturally as birds” (not as supernaturally
as their author), throw a party, not for “glittering eagles o f the
intellectual organs” bu t for wearisome hacks o f small Jewish
journals. One o f their guests, a refugee, tells o f Nazi atrocities
while Lucy Feingold, a convert from Christianity, imagines h u n ­
dreds o f simultaneous Crucifixions as in Chagall’s “The C ru ­
cified” (1944). The “living” room, which Lucy calls “this cham­
ber o f Jews,” begins to lift. “It ascended. It rose like an ark
on waters. . . . It seemed to he r that the room was levitating
on the little grains o f the re fugee’s whisper,” as if ascending