Judeo-European Literary Miscellany:
A Report on Post-War Cultural Activity
A Yiddish puppet show, “Hakl-Bakl,” is much talked about in Paris. Its program consists of “David and Goliath,” “With Mazl” (folk sketches), and “Bontchik the Silent” (after Peretz). Jews and non-Jews are enthusiastic about a show that manages to put itself across despite the most difficult material circumstances. The poet Guillevic had this to say in Les Lettres Françoises: “Ordinary puppets of the guignol type, of a very artful simplicity; no scenery, shifting lights. . . . The producer is Mr. Simche Schwartz. He does everything: sweeps the theater, sets up the stage, writes the lines, composes the music, designs the puppets, makes them, manipulates two in the show—and his enthusiasm is boundless.”
Jaap Soetendorp, former editor of the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad of Amsterdam and at present its Palestinian correspondent, has just published a book entitled Rebirth of a State (Een Staat herrijst, Joachimsthal’s Boekhandel). An apologistic report on life in Palestine at the moment when the decision for partition was taken, it never says more than the right things. Its merits are: a first-hand account, citing concrete examples, of the aid furnished the Arabs by the English; the history it gives us of the little fishing village of Michmoreth; and the story of a bus trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem at a time when such trips might very well have been one-way. The rest is merely fifteen minutes’ worth of newsreel shorts with a good deal too much emotional commentary. The eternal song about the necessity of learning Hebrew, a few superficial lines on the Habimah and Ohel theaters, a pious benediction on Tel Aviv, the children’s villages, and the kvutzot . . . But one still looks for something else. Let some writer for once give us an aesthetic “truth about Palestine” or an analysis of its deeper reality. In this regard, the photographs in Mr. Sœtendorp’s book have more meaning than its text.
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