Page 11 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

Basic HTML Version

KABAKOFF / INTRODUCTION
3
beginning with the first mention o f America in the writings o f
Abraham Farissol, a contemporary o f Columbus.
It is noteworthy that the 400th anniversary o f the Spanish
expulsion and the discovery o f America was marked by two
Hebrew poets, one living in Russia and the o the r in America.
Ju d ah Leib Gordon, whose dea th centenary is the subject o f
an article in this volume o f the Annual, became a suppo rte r
o f em igration to America following the Russian pogroms. In
1892 he published his poem
Erez Hadashah
(A New Land) in
which he described the motivation for the discovery o f America
and compared Columbus to no less a figure than Moses. In
the same yea r, th e Am e r ican H eb rew sa tir is t G e rshon
Rosenzweig took occasion to devote an acrostic poem employing
the letters o f the name o f Christopher Columbus to the ann i­
versary o f the discovery o f America. His poem extolling Co­
lumbus as a divinely inspired exp lorer who had b rough t new
hope to the New World and to persecuted Jewry, originally ap ­
peared as par t o f his editorial comment on Columbus Day, Oc­
tober 12, 1892, in the weekly
Ha-Ivri.
It was later rep rin ted
in his book
Shirim, Meshalim uMikhtamim
(Poems, Parables and
Epigrams, New York, 1894).
During the 19th century various Hebrew and Yiddish works
served to whet the appetite o f their readers for information
about the New World. America continued to be portrayed both
positively and negatively in Hebrew and Yiddish writings p ro ­
duced in Europe. With the development o f cadres o f Hebrew
and Yiddish writers in America itself, particularly du ring ou r
century, more sophisticated treatments o f the American Jewish
experience came into evidence.
I l l
A ra re insight into the process o f library building is offered
in the volume
The Mayer Sulzberger Alexander Marx Correspondence
1904-1925
(New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, 1990), edited and
anno tated by Herm an Dicker and published in a bibliophile edi­
tion o f 300 copies. Dr. Dicker, who is also the au tho r o f a history
o f the Jewish Theological Seminary library, has gathered togeth­
er the letters o f the two individuals who were most responsible
for the early growth o f the Seminary library. They both shared
a vision o f a library that would serve as a depository o f ou r