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February 14, 1969 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-02-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Shawn Aleichem's Works Draw Laughter and Tears

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A Sholom Aleichem TV Travesty:
Humorist's Major Realities Missing

Israel Slaps Jordan for Inserting Petty
Issue at the UN Sec urity Council

There are, in Sholom Aleichem's
There is cause for deep disap-
pointment in "This Is Sholom Alei- writings, many episodes dealing
chem" that was presented in a one- with children, yet there was no
hour show as an "NBC Experi- evidence of it, and the children's
stories, the manner in which young-
ment in Television" on Feb. 7.
Yiddishists have cause to com- sters were affected by the poverty
plain that the Yiddish on that pro- and the misery of the Old World

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. — Jor-
dan's request for a meeting of the
Security Council to consider its
complaint against an Israeli law
concerning the registration of busi-

gram was not Yiddish at all but a
collection of banalities.
Lovers of Sholom Aleichem must
attest that the great humorist was
not portrayed realistically.
It was a farcical show. The selec-
tions from the works of Sholom
Aleichem were not made with a
sense of introducing the represent-
ative character of the Yiddish au-
thor's creative efforts. There was
emphasis on the ldoles—the curses
—but the impressive elements were
lacking.
Much could have been made of
the agonies and the pathos in Jew-
ish life in the shtetl — but there
wasn't even proper evidence of the
shtetl in the TV show.

at the relatively young age of 57,
less than two years after his mi-
gration to the United States."

In the section of the book
titled "From America" Leviant
has included three stories, "Mr.
Green Has a Job," "Otherwise,
There's Nothing New" and "The
Story of a Greenhorn."
There is a satire, "The Little

Redheaded J e w s." Kasrilevke
character stories are "Boaz the
Teacher," "Velvel Gambetta" and
"Isser, the Shamesh."

There are holiday tales—Elijah
the Prophet," "The Esrog" and

a language and literature which "The Guest."

according to fin-de-siecle predic-
tions was to have given up the
ghost by the 1950s."
Leviant's interesting biograph-
ical resume of Sholom Alel-
chem's life, the difficulties he
encountered, his triumphs, add
significantly to the new book as
a study of Sholom Aleichem
and some of his major works.
With reference to Sholom Alei-
chem's writings in America, when
he settled here. Leviant writes:
"In Part Two of the novel 'In
America,' we see a subtle change
in Sholom Aleichem's attitude to
the New World. Where America
had previously been approached
strictly from a satiric and mock-
ing viewpoint, here for the first
time we see the humorist prevail-
ing. This is perhaps an indication
Of what Sholom Aleichem could
have accomplished with his ex-
perience in America had not
tuberculosis cut short his career

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creativity in the Soviet Union, the
total would undoubtedly be higher.
(Russia's 3,000,000 Jews have only
one organ of cultural expression,
the Yiddish monthly Sovietish
Heimland). Until the late 1940s,
when Stalin initiated his infamous
liquidation of Yiddish writers, cul-
tural figures, and institutions, Yid-
dish as an expression of national
culture in the Soviet Union was
flourishing. And now, in the land
where Sholom Aleichem created
most of his works, where modern
Hebrew and modern Yiddish liter-
ature was born, there is almost
total silence. Despite the restric-
tions, the few Yiddish novels re-
cently published in the Soviet
Union show a mastery of form and
an excellent command of Yiddish
as a living literary language. In
sum, then, the combination of Yid-
dish periodicals and books is a
very respectable achievement for

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SHOLOM ALE! HEM

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Sholom Aleichem was the great
Inspirer of humor whose works
gave courage to his readers and
kept them linked with a mighty
tradition.
It was in the era when many
millions of Jews spoke and read
the great storyteller's narratives in
Yiddish.
The tales have taken hold. They
are read widely in English trans-
.. lations. They keep a generation of
English reading Jews entranced
in the stories about the Old World.
Curt Leviant, who teaches He-
braic studies at Rutgers Univer-
sity, remains among the chief in-
spirers for the retention of the
Sholom Aleichem spirit in English
literature.
"Sholom Aleichem — Some
Laughter, Some Tears" is the
title of the newest volume of
"Tales from the Old World and
the New, Selected and Trans-
lated by Curt Leviant," publish-
ed by G: P. Puts m's Sons.
It is a wise selection, combining
satire, children's stories, holiday
experiences, narratives about Kas-
rilevke characters, stories the
great humorist had written in
America about American Jews.
In his introductory essay, Le-
viant expresses joy over Sholom
Aleichem's impact upon American
readers. At the same time he ex-
• presses confidence in the survival
of Yiddish and in the language's
continuing strength, declaring that
"with the proliferation of Yiddish
literature in translation, Yiddish
literature itself, contrary to Cas-
sandran prognostications, is thriv-
ing in many parts of the world."
He lists the existing Yiddish dai-
lies, weeklies and monthlies as
proof of his contention. However,
he makes these points:
"Were it not for the suppression
of Yiddish writers and Jewish

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Another Leviant
Book With Many
Translated Tales

A romance, "Pages From the
`Song of Songs': This Night," en-
enhances the collection.
Stories about Jewish children in-
clude "The Dreydl," "Robbers!,"
"Esther," "Pity for Living Crea-
tures," "A Lost Lag b'Omer" and
"The Penknife."
There is a monologue, "A Bit of
Advice" and two railroad yarns,
"It's a Lie!" and "The Tenth
Man."
Many of these delightful—and
often deeply moving — stories
will bring back recollections
among those who have read them
in their original and will be re-
minders of their having been
great favorites in literary circles.
An expert in his field, excellent
as a translator, a lover of Sholom
Aleichem, Leviant's role in trans-
lating these std ies elevates the
new anthology of Sholom Aleichem
to a high rank in narrative litera-
ture.

community, could have given char-
acter to the production.
Maurice S a mu el could have
guided such a show: his "The
World of Sholom Aleichem" still
stands out among the best inter-
pretations of the humorist and his
works for the English reader. Isaac
Bashevis Singer was a poor sub-
stitute for Samuel on the TV show.
What a pity that what could have
been a great performance turned
into a travesty. ---P.S.

(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jew ish News)

complaint was lodged while "Jor-
dan and other Arab governments
are openly pursuing terror war-
fare against Israel", while Iraqi
Jews "are barbarically being ex-
ecuted because they are Jews"
and while Jews are still languish-
ing in prisons and concentration
camps in other Arab countries.
"In these circumstances, and in
particular when Ambassador (Gun-
nar V.) Jarring is about to resume
his peace mission, to seize the Se-
curity Council with the technical-
ities of registration of commercial
enterprises in Jerusalem is the
height of frivolity and irresponsi-
ble malice," the statement said.
The council was unable to meet

nesses and licensed professionals
in East Jerusalem was denounced
by the Israeli mission to the United
Nations Monday as an attempt to
involve that body in irrelevant
technicalities at a time when Mid-
dle East peace hangs in the
balance.
A statement issued by a spokes-
man for the mission accused Jor-
dan of "a brazen attempt to in-
crease tension and hamper once
more efforts to find a solution to
Monday because of the blizzard in
the conflict"
New York.
It charged that the Jordanian

Israel Safer Than Reports Indicate

These successful mopping - up
operations last year did two things:
As a corollary to the publicity They put behind bars those who
enjoyed recently by the El Fatah were engaged in or were planning
in Western newspapers and maga- to carry out acts of sabotage and
zines, people got the idea that Arab
terrorism was something felt in
everyday life in Israel. This is far
from the truth.
More than 80 per cent of all inci-
dents occur within a distance of 1.5
mile of the border. Of those 80 per
cent, about three quarters involve
shooting from across the border.
Of the less than 20 per cent of in-
The Central Conference of Ameri-
cidents that do occur outside the
immediate vicinity of the border, can Rabbis has urged members of
most happen in remote parts of the Jewish community to continue
the West Bank or Sinai or on dirt their active participation in the
roads in the countryside of the civil rights drive and not permit
the anti-Semitism of militant Ne-
Gaza Strip.

By ELIAHU SALPETER

(Copyright 1969, JIM, Inc.)

Rabbis' Words:
Fight Racism
Avoid Splits

Fortunately—but not by mere
accident—incidents seldom occur
inside Israel territory. When the
terrorists do pull off an act of
sabotage like the bombing of the
Mahne Yebuda marketplace on
a busy Friday morning, the echo
in Israel and abroad obscures
the rarity of terrorist success
against civilian targets.
In the 19 months since the Six-
Day War, there were only three

such cases: two in Jerusalem and

one in Tel Aviv. Scores of lesser
attempts were discovered and
aborted. It is significant that most
of the attempts were made in

Jerusalem which is much closer to
densely populated Arab areas than
in Tel Aviv or Haifa. When they
tried to drop home-made bombs in
the Tel Aviv bus station, the ter-
rorists were quickly apprehended
and their capture led to the dis-
covery of those responsible for
similar attacks and attempts in

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS Jerusalem. • • -

murder; they convinced potential
joiners and sympathizers of terror-
ists that Israeli police and security
services are too efficient for com-
fort. This explains why terrorist
activities center on the border
areas. The local population is not
willing to provide them with hiding
places and supplies and therefore
they plan actions which, hopeful-
ly, will enable them to cross back
to Jordan territory the same night.

Nevertheless, b or der incur-
sions can be a matter of life and
death for the members of the
Israeli patrols. It is a matter of
tension and worry for mothers
whose sons serve in units station.
ed in border areas. It means
also, many sleepless nights for
officers who are in charge of
protecting the border and pre-
venting successful penetration by
terrorists.
But the average Israeli's daily
life, unless he happens to live in
one of the border settlements, is
very little affected by the attempts
of Arab terrorists. His car may be
stopped once in a while for a police
identity-check on the highway; and
if he carries a suspicious-looking
bag upon entering a movie thea-
ter, an eagle-eyed civil-defense
warden may politely ask him to
open it.
But otherwise the streets—and
highways—of Israel and of the oc-
cupied areas are safer today than
ever in anybody's memory. Never
during the British Mandate could
a Jew travel at night without arms
in most of Arab populated areas of
Palestine. Very few would dare,
even in 'quiet" times, to walk at
night inZlablus or Hebron. Today,

gros to cause a split between Negro
and Jew in this country.
In the annual message for Race
Relations Sabbath, observed in con-
junction with Lincoln's birthday,
the CCAR sharply assailed all
manifestations of racism, lawless-
ness or violence "whether black or
white."
Referring to the current out-
breaks of Negro anti-Semitism, the
Reform rabbis voiced condemna-
tion of "racism in any forms,
whether the anti-Semitic ravings
of white Nazis or black agitatiors.
It is racism which is the most ter-
rible idolatry of our times—the dis-
placement of God by Race."
The statement pleaded for "un-
derstanding" by members of the
Jewish community, "we must not
allow ourselves to be divided, Jew
against black. To condemn all Jews
for the anti-black racism of some,
is as wrong as to condemn all
blacks for the anti-Semitic racism
of some:" • -
-this is taken-tor- granted. - — -

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