Page 44 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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noring the Jewish State, has recently changed its tone and con­
tent. It remains the official organ o f the religious Jewish com­
munity, bu t because it carries the stigma o f collaboration it is
seen as largely irrelevant by younger journalists, as well as by
old-timers who feel they can at last write candidly about Jewish
matters. O f the new publications, the two most significant are
the monthly
(Sabbath) and the literary magazine
es Jovo
(Past and Future), a revival o f a prewar Jewish jou rna l.
Not only have these periodicals set high literary standards, their
editors stress their independen t stance, their non-affiliation with
any official Jewish organization, either local o r foreign.
One leading Jewish personality whose repu ta tion remains u n ­
tarnished, although his career peaked du ring the Communist
era, is Sandor (Alexander) Scheiber (1913-1985). A long-time
d irec tor o f Budapest’s Jewish Theological Seminary and a schol­
a r o f international renown, Scheiber trained several generations
o f Hungarian rabbis. But th rough his many-faceted pastoral,
scholarly and literary activities, he influenced and inspired many
more young Hungarians, including quite a few non-Jews. While
Scheiber, too, had to make certain concessions to the powers
that be, as a scholar and spiritual leader he was above politics,
and his impact on contemporary Hungarian Jewish cultural life
has been enormous .2
A num ber o f young Jewish writers, sociologists and academics
who discovered their Jewishness in recent years (in some cases
u nd e r the influence o f Sandor Scheiber) have reached conclu­
sions about their new-found identity that are quite d iffe ren t
from those o f a somewhat o lder generation o f writers, born
du r ing o r righ t af te r the war, who in their recen t works have
also attemp ted to come to terms with their Jewish origins. In
both cases we are speaking o f people whose paren ts were them ­
selves products o f either old-style liberal assimilation o r Com­
munist internationalist assimilation (the two often overlap, one
reinforcing the other) and who there fo re were not very eager
2. See Alexander Scheiber,
Essays on Jewish Folklore and Comparative Literature.
Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1985. See also my review o f Scheiber’s
es targytortenet
(Folklore and Thematology) in
Jewish Social Studies
(Summer-Fall 1980): 362-364.