Page 15 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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impressive compilation of the literature of Purim. More than
550 clearly printed and illustrated pages hold prose and poetry
selections culled from the wealth of Jewish lore and literature.
Their range is wide, the degree of their excellence various, but
merit of one kind or another is in every selection and due to
their great diversity, the reader is constantly surprised and
refreshed. Scores of poets, essayists, historians, scholars and
others make their contribution to this remarkable volume bring-
ing new meaning and pleasure to young and old alike who delight
in observing Purim.
Those who take delight in the appropriate observance of
Passover, the most popular of Jewish festivals, will find it quite
rewarding to turn to the pages of
Passover: its history and tradi-
by Theodor Herzl Gaster (N.Y., Schuman, 1949). Well
written and beautifully illustrated with reproductions from
ancient Haggadahs, they unfold the story of the festival not
only in terms of the accepted tradition but also against the
background of modern knowledge.
In an absorbing manner,
Professor Gaster blends together the light cast upon the ori-
gins and practices of the festival by the study of comparative
religions and sound Jewish learning. He emphasizes the ob-
servance of Passover not just as a symbol of the liberation from
Egypt but as a “ festival of human freedom,” a “celebration
of the idea of liberty itself.”
The popularity of Passover is in no small measure associated
with the observance in the Jewish home of the Seder with all
its poetry and quaintness. Much of the curious and fanciful
in that service is fully represented in charming portions of the
text of the Haggadah which is perhaps the most popular of He-
brew liturgical texts. In no other Hebrew book have artists
ever shown greater interest than in its text as is evident from
the innumerable illustrated editions which have been appearing
perennially. Among the new Haggadahs which have been pub-
lished during the year there is one with a new English translation
by Rabbi Isaac Edward Kiev, beautifully illustrated by Kafra
(N.Y., Feldheim, 1949).
I t is not an accident that good books dealing with information
of Jewish religious life are available. No doubt, such books
meet a deeply felt need. Recent years have also seen the appear-
ance of a goodly number of new prayer books but very few books
about prayer. The lights of prayer, which seemed dim for a time,
have been relit and there is need for Jewish books about prayer.