Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 8 (1949-1950)

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BLOCH ----THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
Like Sholom Aleichem his eminent contemporary Isaac Loeb
Peretz also drew abundantly upon the rich folklore of the Jews
in many stories and legends which he contributed to Hebrew and
Yiddish literature. Like Sholom Aleichem, too, he apportioned a
measure of his talent for the writing of stories for children. Tehilla
Feinerman rendered from the Yiddish his
Three canopies
, illus-
trated by Alice Horodisch (N. Y., Shoulson, 1948). I t is a delight-
ful fairy tale about the kingdom of the Children of Moses on the
yonder side of the legendary river of Sambatyon ruled by King
Solomon the 27th whose baby daughter was exchanged secretly
for the child of a servant. What Maurice Samuel did several
years ago in his
The world of Sholom Aleichem
he also endeavored
to do for Peretz. In
Prince of the ghetto
(Philadelphia, Jewish
Publication Society of America; N. Y., Knopf, 1948) he offers an
exposition of the soul of Polish Jewry as it is reflected in the
writings of one of its literary masters. The folk and hasidic tales
as well as the other writings of Peretz are interpreted with sympa-
thy and understanding and in a style at once clear and fascinating.
Ancient lore is the source of several other publications which
have appeared during the year. Though most of the stories in
The palace of the eagle
and
The stranger within the gates
, both by
Sulamith Ish-Kishor, illustrated by Alice Horodisch (N. Y.,
Shoulson, 1948), are derived from Midrashic sources they also
include stories and fairy tales of modern life as well as poems.
Some of them have an historical background.
The impatient sages
,
a legend by Samuel Lewin, translated by Jeremiah Lewin; illus-
trated with woodcuts by Joseph Budko (N. Y., Beechhurst, 1948)
is a powerful exposition of the never-failing hope of the oppressed
Jews of the Middle Ages. Jewish lore of a more recent day and
American in character is the backbone of
Meet the folks
, by Sam
Levenson (N. Y., Citadel, 1948), a collection of humorous stories,
essays and anecdotes plus a dictionary of Basic Yiddish for
“nudnicks,” not always in good taste.
To the realm of folklore belongs also the first volume of
The
Bible legend book
by Lillian S. Freehof (Cincinnati, Union of
American Hebrew Congregations, 1948). Drawing on the rich
lore incorporated in Louis Ginzberg’s
Legends of the Jews
, Mrs.
Freehof, with the discernment of a fine scholar, manages to blend
skillfully much of the flavor of rabbinic imaginative amplifications
of the biblical narrative with the “facts” that have a special appeal
for the child. I t is odd, I know, to use the word charming for a
work of scholarship, but Mrs. Freehof’s
The Bible legend book
,
because it is written with an eagerness that scholars seldom possess
and with a delight in her subject, is a charming book,