Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

Basic HTML Version

u d e l
a r k
n p H E year 5706 was not a happy one for Yiddish books. The
-■־ number of Yiddish books published during the past year, par-
ticularly in this country, appears to be smaller than in previous
years. Of these books the best, and those tha t draw our attention
the most, are reflections on or echoes of the destruction that
marked this era.
Throughout the past eighty years Jewish literature has served
as the most important medium through which the Jewish people
has expressed itself to itself and to the outside world, the medium
through which it at tempted to identify its spiritual image. Yiddish
literature vibrated with the vitality of Eastern European Jewry
so tha t the devastation in Europe now hovers over Yiddish litera-
ture incomparably heavier than it does over Jewish literary crea-
tions in other languages.
To the extent tha t the full horror of the destruction was per-
ceived on this continent, this perception ripened only during the
past year. Formerly every family consoled itself in the hope that
some of its relatives had been rescued. There was speculation as
to whether the unbelievable reports might not be exaggerated.
But it was only after the war ended in Europe and it was no
longer possible to avoid the tragic t ru th with alibis based on un-
founded and easy optimism, tha t the meaning of the destruction
of thousands of communities and the extinction of millions of
brothers and sisters was grasped in a personal, family way. Those
among us who felt things more keenly were bowed under the
burden of pain. Pain is confining and interferes with creative
processes. I t diminishes the private and social energy required
for the writing of a book. Not every hur t can find expression in
an outcry, and certainly not every pain can find utterance in a
poem. On the other hand, it is somehow indecent to speak of
matters tha t are irrelevant in the home of a mourner. I t is there-
fore not so easy to write or publish books on matters tha t have
no bearing, however indirectly, on the destruction in Europe.
With greater clarity than ever before in our long Diaspora
*Translated by Shlomo Katz.