Menu JTA Search

Between the Lines

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A Jewish Book Week is now being celebrated throughout the United States. But who knows about it?

With all the Jewish educational institutions that exist in America, little or nothing has been done to make this week popular. Nothing has been done to make the Jewish youth conscious of the importance of such a week.

When a general Book Week is proclaimed in America, it is usually taken for granted that there are commercial motives behind it. This motive does not exist in the Jewish Book Week. There are so few publishers of Jewish books in America, that they cannot be suspected of promoting a special Jewish Book Week for their own benefit only. Furthermore, the Jewish publishing houses have practically nothing to do with Jewish Book Week.

A PURPOSE MERITING ATTENTION

When Jewish Book Week was proclaimed for the first time nine years ago, it was with the object of bringing more Jewish knowledge into the Jewish home. It was founded as an aspect of modern Jewish education, to reawaken Jewish consciousness and to develop among the American-Jewish youth a greater familiarity with the history and civilization of the Jews.

Such a purpose certainly merits the attention not only of a few individuals but of all the Jewish educational institutions in America. It merits the attention of Jewish leaders, especially at the present time when the Jewish problem is being pushed to the forefront by all kinds of dark forces.

A SERVICE NOT RENDERED

It is therefore regrettable to see how little has been done by Jewish organizations this year for Jewish Book Week. It is painful to note that the occasion is passing practically unnoticed.

During the last two years, more than at any previous time, books on Jews have been published in America by Jewish and non-Jewish publishing firms. Novels, plays and books on Jewish social problems, have appeared, answering the demand of the average reader, for more knowledge about the Jews.

What a great service to Jewry might have been rendered it this literature, coupled with other literature written by or about Jews in previous years, were exhibited on a large scale in various American cities and in libraries as a part of the Jewish Book Week! What fine propaganda it would have made for non-Jews and what a pageant of knowledge for the Jewish youth!

SHORTSIGHTED LEADERS

The passing unnoticed of Jewish Book Week this year is therefore a concrete example of the defects of our Jewish cultural organizations. Their failure to convert Jewish Book Week into a nationwide demonstration of Jewish contribution to America’s and the world’s culture shows how dismally our Jewish cultural institutions have failed as yet to understand their mission.

Credit must be given to Miss Fanny Goldstein, librarian of the Boston Public Library. Despite the indifferent attitude of those who should have been interested in fostering Jewish Book Week, this woman, working untiringly to popularize the week from the very first year of its inception, has done much also this year. The booklet on Judaica, which Miss Goldstein has compiled and which was published by the Boston Public Library, is a fine contribution to the Book Week. This booklet gives a clear idea of all the literature by and on Jews in the English language, that is to be found in this country. It is a splendid piece of research work and deserves a place in the library of every Jew in America.

NEXT STORY