Page 10 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 50

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
o f the Holocaust and the destruction of so many bastions of
Jewish culture. They mourned the deaths of countless writers
and creative spirits. Yet they were determined all the more to
see to it that American Jewry should help make up the deficit.
Hebrew and Yiddish literature were viewed as vital links with
our cultural past. And American Jewish literature and schol­
arship were carefully monitored and evaluated for their role
in interpreting the Jewish spirit and defining the Jewish position
in the contemporary world.
II
To strike a personal note, I do not hesitate to confess on
the occasion of our special golden anniversary that I have en­
joyed a life-long “romance” with the work of the Council and
the JBA. Among my treasured memories are those of my as­
sociation with the members of the group of pioneer idealists
that championed the cause of the Jewish book. It all began d u r ­
ing my student days when I received a phone call from Mordecai
Soltes, who served as the first chairman of the Jewish Book
Council of America and who had been active previously in the
work of the National Committee for Jewish Book Week. Dr.
Soltes informed me of the plans for publishing a trilingual an­
nual that was to be devoted to the Jewish book and asked wheth­
er I would prepare a summary of the Hebrew section. I readily
agreed and also made available to him for the volume a “Short
Bibliography of Modern Hebrew Works in English Transla­
tion,” which I had prepared for the Histadruth Ivrith, the Na­
tional Organization for Hebrew Culture.
Regrettably, I am the only surviving contributor to the pi­
oneer Volume I of the Annual. It is with the deepest admiration
and highest esteem that I look back on the devoted efforts of
the early editors and contributors who labored
le-shem shamayim.
Among the editors of the English section were Solomon Grayzel
(1942-43) and Mortimer Cohen (1952). Dr. Grayzel commanded
the respect of all because of his responsible position as the schol­
arly editor of the Jewish Publication Society. By example, he
set the standard for the participants. During the 1940s I resided
in Philadelphia where I got to know both Drs. Grayzel and Co­
hen. The latter had earned a considerable reputation as a mas­
terful reviewer of books. In 1945 he became the first editor