Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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For the Israeli writer there is less danger of denying one’s identity
through intermarriage. He grapples less with the mother-figure
and the model for continuity she represents. It is the father who is
the ideational and ideological focus ofJewish continuity. It is with
him the writer struggles over the issues of the Jewish State and
Jewishness in a secular world. This issue has plagued Jewish aware­
ness since the Haskalah period. Earlier Hebrew literature to which
Israeli literature is heir, repeatedly portrayed young men breaking
away from the Jewish traditions, often from the yeshiva, through
their struggle with fathers and father-figures, rabbis and teachers.
It was the father who represented the world of ideas and ideology.
Some Israeli writers still struggle with fathers over tradition. But
more often than not, the struggle of the Israeli writers of the sixties
and seventies has been with the Zionist fathers who have brought
them to a land where they must constantly face war and death. We
see this clearly in the writing of A.B. Yehoshua. It is evident also in
the poetry of Yehuda Amichai. Amichai offers us a paradigm of
what we will find in fiction. The poet denies the tradition of his be­
loved father because, in spite of his faith in God, the father could
not protect his children from the ravages of war in this biblical
While the son struggles with the father, the mother is represent­
ed in much ofAmichai’s poetry as the warm, protective, traditional
My mother baked the whole world for me
in sweet cakes.
Her love filled my window with raisins of stars
And the yearnings closed in me like
bubbles in a loaf of bread.
Mother fills the child’s world with the sweetness and warmth
creating in the adult yearnings for the sweet cake of childhood
which the lover will someday satisfy. She is the alternative to the
war reality.