Page 45 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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to enlighten the ir children about their Jewish background .3 But
whereas representatives o f the immediate postwar generation
are only willing to go as far as recognizing in themselves and
in o thers sensibilities and proclivities that may be term ed Jewish,
many o f the younger writers, now in their late twenties and
early thirties, believe tha t to coun ter the effects o f traditional,
near-total assimilation, as well as the repressed traumas o f the
Holocaust and the “healing forgetfulness” preached hypocrit­
ically by the Communists, they must actively re learn and em ­
brace a tradition that is all bu t lost in Hungary.
An im po rtan t member o f this new g roup o f writers is Janos
Kobanyai who in the last six or seven years has done more to
awaken in terest in the cultural and spiritual heritage o f Judaism
than perhaps any o the r literary figure in the country. In essays,
interviews and reports Kobanyai delves into problems o f Jewish
identity and legacy with the passion o f a neophyte and the es­
thetic sense o f a man o f letters. (As ed itor o f
Mult es Jovo
also demonstrates his dedication to literary values.) And while
his approach and standards o f judgm en t remain literary, he
is convinced that in assimilationist Hungary a re tu rn to Judaism
cannot be accomplished without a knowledge o r appreciation
o f the religious past. In one o f his reviews he points out that
in Hungary today there is a far g reater need for basic Hebrew
texts in translation, as well as informative books on Jewish life
m d observance, than for the more accessible examples o f “high
Jewish cu ltu re” (by which he no doub t means literature p ro ­
duced by Hunga ry ’s Jewish-born literary giants, o r the supe r­
lative scholarship carried on early in the century at the Budapest
Theological Seminary by Sandor Scheiber’s predecessors). In
this connection Kobanyai comments on a rep r in t o f a Hungarian
translation o f the Hertz Bible, a pictorial record o f living Jewish
traditions in Hungary, and a handy book on Hungarian Jewish
cuisine, all th ree published in Budapest in the mid-1980s.4
3. See the revealing set o f interviews “Hogyan jottem ra, hogy zsido vagyok?”
(How Did I Discover I Was Jewish?). In
1985:2-3: 129-144. An
abbreviated English version o f this survey can be found in
SovietJewish Affairs
17:3 (Winter 1987): 55-66.
4. See
Mozes ot konyve es a Haftarak,
(The Pentateuch and Haftorahs). 5 vols.
Budapest: 1984; Tamas Fener and Sandor Scheiber, . . .
beszeld el fiadnak
Zsido hagyomanyok Magyarorszagon
(‘And Tell Your Son’ — Jewish Tra­
ditions in Hungary). Budapest: Corvina Kiado, 1984 (also available in En-