Page 61 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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covering the years 1941-1944 (N. Y., ’47). The fifth volume of
1 he Judaeans
(N. Y., ’47) offers a collection of selected papers
presented at its meetings during the years 1933-1940. While
some of them are definitely dated most of them are of interest
even today. The
of the second annual Rabbinical
Assembly conference on Jewish education (N. Y., ’47) deal largely
with “The structure of Jewish education in Conservative Juda-
ism.” The several organizations which issue annually collections
of Jewish sermons have continued the practice also this year.
This survey covers one year’s endeavor on the part of American
publishers to present what they presumably regard as the best
output of contemporary effort in Jewish thought and letters.
There are brilliant works, historical, poetic, personal memoirs
and discussions of current Jewish problems — all worthwhile con-
tributions to literature. They include writings, some of which,
upon their publication, created a measure of excitement. The
abundance of Jewish characters and references to Jews and Jewish
experience in the general fiction is an indication of the prevailing
interest of the world in the Jews and their problems. On the other
hand, writers of fiction who are directly concerned with Jews are
no longer apologetic as they were in years gone by. The dominant
note in writing today is not toughness or economic defeat or sue-
cess, but more sensitive understanding of and psychological in-
sight into Jewish life and feeling. I t appears, however, that the
need of the Jewish reader is being better served by non-fictional
prose than by the kind of novels in which aspects of anti-Semitism
or dejudaization are overemphasized. I t may be that, by and
large, the last year in Jewish fiction represents a blind alley, out
of which it must retreat upon themes more positive, more durable
and presented in a style less strained and without an axe to grind.
Though truth is stranger and stronger than fiction, the fact re-
mains that it is the novel and the short story which are capable
most effectively of translating the emotion and the core of Jewish
idealism and suffering. Gifted writers should be encouraged to
employ them in the service of Jews and Judaism. Both, the long
novel and the short story, are excellent literary instruments for
wide dissemination of knowledge of Jewish life and lore. I t is good
to know that to an ever-increasing, though less spectacular degree,
Jewish books from America are finding a perceptive public and
often a large one on both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Indeed, a welcome reception awaits them now in all countries
where Jewish literature is not without friends.