Page 17 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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11
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
interpreted in a fascinating manner in
Hasidism
, a volume of
essays, by Martin Buber (N.Y., Philosophical Library, 1948)
in which an endeavor is made to describe the role of Hasidism
as a popular movement and of its “rabbis,” who have contributed
much to the stemming of pseudo-messianic influences amid
Jewry.
More than any one else Buber has indefatigably occupied
himself with presenting to the Western world the numerous
aphorisms, fables, parables, and homilies which he culled from
the vast resources of Hasidic legendary lore and recast in a form
entirely his own.
Tales of the hasidim
,
the later masters
[trans-
lated by Olga Marx] (N. Y., Schocken, 1948) is a companion
to his
Tales of the hasidim
;
the early masters
, which appeared
in 1947. In both volumes the great leaders of Hasidism emerge
through their words and deeds in all their strength and weak-
ness. The early masters were, no doubt, veritable giants but
some of the later ones, while not lacking brilliance and wisdom,
were steeped in countless quarrels and family feuds.
The lure of the pious Hasidim constitutes the primary source
of the writings of Samuel Joseph Agnon, a leading Hebrew writer
of our age, some of which are now available to the English read-
ing public. His short novel,
In the heart of the seas
, translated
from the Hebrew by I. M. Lask with ten superb illustrations
by T. H. Rome (N.Y., 1948), has been issued as the ninth volume
in the Schocken library. I t narrates the adventures of a company
of nineteenth century Hasidim who were on a sea voyage while
making a pilgrimage to the land of Israel. The kindliness and
faith of one of their number, Hananiah, is an inspiration to all.
ANTISEMITISM AND THE JEW
Whatever the reasons, and despite the claims to the contrary,
antisemitism is no longer as great a threat to the security of
the Jews in America as it was thought to be several years ago.
Nevertheless, it will continue to be a subject of interest to those
who are concerned with the social and political welfare of the
Jews and of the attitude of the non-Jewish world to the position
they occupy in all spheres of human endeavor. A reasoned
presentation of their position in modern society is offered by
one of the most-discussed writers and playwrights of today,
Jean-Paul Sartre, the leader of French Existentialism. In his
Anti-Semite and Jew
translated from the French by George
J. Becker (N.Y., Schocken, 1948), he gives an incisive analysis
of the psychology of the Jew-baiter and a piercing appraisal
of the situation of the modern Jew. I t is a brilliant and fas-