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June 06, 1969 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-06-06

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`The Family Carnovsky' and the Singer Saga

Several generations of Jews,
covering the genesis of experi-
ences in Poland, continuing into
Germany, migrating to America;
the relevant economic structures
involved in the evolution of Jew-
ish family life commencing with
the era of oppression and restric-
tion and leading to the progress
out of which also develops inter-
marriage, assimilation, es c a p e
from the Jewish fold—these are
incorporated in the powerful novel
by I. J. Singer, "The Family Car-
novsky," a Vanguard Press (424
Madison, NY17) publication.
Translated by the author's son,
Joseph Singer, this tremendous
work by the author of "The Broth-
ers Ashkenazi" has an interesting
history. This is the first time
"The Family Carnovsky" appears
in English, the Yiddish text al-
ready having attracted widest at-

The immensity of this novel is
in the coverage of the historic
experiences and of the changing
times and the "progressive"
moods which result so often in
assimilation, abandonment of
faith, yielding to outside pres-
sures that stem from anti-Semi-

From strict adherence to Jewish
regulations and to communal loy-
alty to the conversions, collabora-
tions, rejection of kinships. the
cast of characters in the I. J. Sin-
ger novel mirror the Jewish ex-
There are the wars, the emer-
gence of Hitlerism in World War

Germanization of some
members of the Carnovsky family,
the flight of some members of the
clan to the United States and the
fraternization with American
So striking are the contrasts
and the resort to escape from
Judaism that the story assumes
a great place among the evalua-
tive analyses of the effects of
assimilation and the way of
some escapees who are shamed
by the past.
Jews and half-Jews in the fam-
ily, mixed marriages and the
craving for recognition even when
it calls for rejection of the Jewish
past—these are among the strik-
ing factors in a novel of extreme

celebrated than his 11-years-youn-
ger brother. His best-known works
are "Yoshe Kalb," a novel adapt-
ed into a play that has been im-
mensely successful in Yiddish
theaters all over the world, and
"The Brothers Ashkenazi," a best-
! seller that was widely acclaimed
when it was published some years
back in the United States and that
has since become a classic in our
I.J. Singer died in 1944. In her
bereavement, his widow did not
let out of her possession her hus-
band's books written originally in
Yiddish and not yet translated.
Only after her death did Joseph
Singer, the second son, undertake
to translate his father's remain-
ing writings in a systematic fash-
ion. Thus, the current book, "The
Family Carnovsky," is now being
presented to the American public
for the first time.
I. J. Singer was born in 1893 in
Bilgoraj, Poland, the second of
four children of a rabbi. When he
was age 15, the Singer family
moved to Warsaw where I. J. stu-
died at religious school and with
his father. Three years later, his
interests turned to more secular
matters, including writing and
painting. He wrote for the Yiddish
papers in Warsaw and in Kiev,
Russia, and later was hired as the
Warsaw correspondent of the New
York "Jewish Daily Forward,"
from 1927 to his death in 1944. The
last 10 years of his life were spent
in the United States.
His books, all originally written
in Yiddish, include: "New Rus-
sia," a compilation of articles
written for the Jewish Daily For-
ward, "Steel and Iron" ("Schtell
and Eisen"), a novel about the
bloody aftermath of World War I,
"Yoshe Kalb," "The Brothers
Ashkenazi," "The River Breaks
Up," "East of Eden," and the
first of what was to be a several-
volume autobiography — "Of a
World That Is No More"—in addi-
tion to "The Family Carnovsky."

II, the

The Family Carnovsky
and the Family Singer
Singer is a key name in "The

Family Carnovsky."
Israel Joshua Singer is the au-
thor of this saga of a Jewish fam-
ily Singer is also the last name
of I.J.'s brother, Isaac Bashevis
Singer, who is well-known to
American readers for his many
novels and collections of short
stories. Singer, Joseph, who is
I.J.'s son and I.B.'s nephew, has
translated many of his father's
works from Yiddish, including
"The Family Carnovsky," and five
out of eight of his uncle's.
The Singer family story reads
like a novel in itself, peopled by
characters in the literary world.
In Europe. I.J. Singer is more

The Generation Gap


(Copyright, 1969. JTA. Inc.)

About the generation gap:
The other day the papers report-
ed a speech by a modern man. He
got up at a meeting of rabbis and
said right out that what the rabbis
needed was not to study so much
religion, but science.
Well, actually, the story about
this man did not appear in the
newspapers. It appears in the Tal-
mud. The man's name was Bar
Kappara, a great rabbi of talmu-
dic days, but he did speak in this
vein to his brother rabbis.
Bar Kappara was a great lover
of astronomy. He prided himself
on his study of that science. He
would have been very excited
about the explorations of space.
He quoted Isaiah's condemnation
of those "who do not regard the
work of God's hands." It was the
people who studied scinece, he
said, who studied the. work of
God's hands.
Some of the rabbis opposed Bar
Kappara's stand, but he was lis-
tened to with great respect. At one
banquet where he spoke, the people
listening to him were so absorbed,
many forgot to eat.
There were others like Bar Kap-
para. We have just succeeded in
almost abolishing capital punish-
ment in this country. TWo thousand
years ago, Rabbi Aldba said if he
were a judge, he would always find
a way not to enforce the law for
capital punishment.
Hillel teas for a democratic soci-

ety. He said that all of Judaism
was contained in the sentence,
"What is hateful unto thee, do not
unto thy neighbor." But that meant
of course, you couldn't bust up the
meetings of your neighbors any
more than you would like them to
bust up your meetings.
There was one mitzvel which Hil -
lel observed to which the hippies
of today would not agree. Once. I
Hillel said to a friend. "Sorry, I
have to leave. I have to perform
a mitzva."
asked the ;
"I have to take a bath."

Some of these old timers had
some fairly modern views all
around. Take the matter of litter-
ing the street. In New York, on
radio and television, the appeal is
always being made not to litter the
streets. "A newspaper weighs only
an ounce or two. So is that too

heavy to place in the garbage
can?" Such is the rec, rring com-
In the Talmud, there is a differ-
ent appeal. A man who has thrown
something on the street is asked,
"Why do you throw things from
premises which you do not own (a
rented house) to property which is
your own (the public streets)?"
It seems to me the talmudic
commercial is much superior. A
person who litters the streets is
shown that he is messing up his
own property.
Where, I ask, do these old timers
belong in the context of the genera-
tion gap? And pray remember,
they wore whiskers, too.
I must admit that some of these
people of the Talmud sometimes
did go in for odd names. Take the
case of Kalba Sabua. He was one
of the richest men of Jerusalem.
Kalba Sabua means satisfied dog.
It seems he got his name because
of his generosity. Someone re-
marked that even a hungry dog
who applied to him would be sat-
isfied. So the name stuck.
But the two best names of the
Talmud are undoubtedly Ben Bag
Bag and Ben He He. In American
history, we know that Thomas
Woodrow Wilson dropped his first
name because he figured that with
an alliterative name like Woodrow
Wilson, he would get farther and
he was elected President.
With a name like Ben Bag Bag
or Ben He He, certainly one could
hope to be elected to Congress.

7 Nazis, Accused
of Signing Orders,
Freed in W. Berlin

men accused of having participated
in the slaughter of thousands of
Berlin Jews during the Nazi era
were released Monday after a West
Berlin court dismissed charges
against them.
The men had been accused of
signing deportation orders that
sent Jews to death camps. Charges
were dismissed on a request by the
prosecutor on the grounds of a
federal court ruling that malice
aforethought must be proved. Even
if it is not proved, a 15-year statute
of limitations on abetting to mur-
der is now in effect.


16—Friday, June 6, 1969

Judaism Could Become 'Fossil,' Warns Rabbi

Unless American Jews can re- to the Dilemmas of Modern Man,"
dedicate themselves to their faith which will be published Monday
in a way that is "relevant, mean- by Bloch.
ingful, and pertinent" to today's
problems of morality and human
relations, Judaism stands in dan-
ger of turning into "a fossil, a
museum piece, a curious antique."
That is the warning of a young
Long Island rabbi, Gilbert S.
Southfield Board of Education
Rosenthal, in his book, "Genera-
tions in Crisis: Judaism's Answers '

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