Page 81 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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ranc i s
e v e s i
HERE was a rich Jewish cultural life in Hungary before
World War II. Institutions fostered Jewish research and lit-
erature. The Hungarian Hebrew Literary Society (Itzraelita
Magyar Trodalmi Jarsulat) published a series of important works;
its yearbooks have always been a fountainhead of scholarship and
information, and its Bible translations enjoyed great popularity
among Christians and Jews. The Hungarian Jewish Cultural
Association (Orszagos Magyar Kozmuvelodesi Egyesulet) pro-
duced generations of writers, novelists, and essayists devoted to
Jewish life and problems. The Jewish community of Budapest
alone published several valuable scientific works.
The periodical
Mult es Jovo
(Past and Future) with its attrac-
tive format, and the distinguished works of art included in it,
achieved world reputation. The scholarly monthly
Magyar Zsido
(Hungarian Jewish Review) together with its Hebrew
Hazofeh Leretz Hagar
) was considered
by Jewish scholars everywhere as an important contribution to
the study of Judaism.
Many of the products of Hungarian Jewish scholars are peren-
nial monuments of talent and industry. Wilhelm Bacher, David
Kaufmann, Immanuel Loew, Ludwig Blau, Ignatz Goldziher,
Simon Hevesi, Michael Guttmann and many others contributed
richly to universal Jewish knowledge.
This creative spirit did not succumb to the persecutions of Jews
following World War I or even in the darker days of the second,
most terrible war. Scholarly research continued; poetry thrived;
books continued to be published and were purchased and bought
by an eager and avid public. The Jewish writers who lost their
positions and the Jewish actors who were driven off the stage as
a consequence of the second Jewish Law (Fall of 1939) did not
lose their courage. They founded the first Jewish Theater in
Budapest. Jewish plays were written, Jewish music was composed
and a new and promising cultural movement began to flourish.
These dark days also witnessed the growth of an extensive
apologetic literature to meet the omnipresent attack of anti-
Jewish propaganda, seen most vividly in the thousands of pas-
quinades which grew like mushrooms from the poison-soaked soil