Page 39 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 1

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ANNIVERSARIES
Few tragedies are as po ignan t as loss of memory; i t means the
dea th of personal i ty even though the person remains alive. T h e
like may be t rue of a people. Groups, too, may forget the events
and personalities which molded the i r spirit and set the i r goal.
T o guard against such tragedy books are wr i t ten: histories,
biographies and historical novels and poems. As a fu r the r stimu-
lan t to memory, anniversaries are observed of the b i r th o r the
dea th of significant personalities and of the occurrence of im-
p o r tan t events. I t is an a t temp t to throw the past in to the bund le
of living energy which each man carries as his sp ir i tua l baggage,
and which, in the case of the Jews, contains the very b read of life.
T h e year 1942-43 offers a considerable numbe r of anniversaries.
Each of them is no t only of great significance in itself b u t also
exemplifies a tendency in Jewish life. Each event should, of
course, be read abou t at leng th in connection w i th the move-
men t of which it is par t . Here we can do lit t le more than
men t ion the anniversary and direct the reader to a book where
more in fo rma t ion may be found.
Twen ty years have passed since the dea th of Eliezer ben
Yehudah, the great Hebrew lexicographer, indeed, the creator,
in a sense, of modern Hebrew. W i th ex t rao rd ina ry single-
mindedness he had set for himself the task of mak ing Hebrew a
spoken, living language. Modern Palestine testifies to his success.
Twenty-five years will soon have passed since the cornerstone
was laid for the Hebrew University. No single act will emerge
as more symbolic of the spir i t in which the new set t lement of
Palestine has been unde r taken than the act of establishing a
university even before the economic and political fu tu re of the
country was assured. Here is the soul of Zionism revealed. T h e
University has been wr i t ten up in many places. I t and the
revival of Hebrew cu l ture which i t represents will be found
briefly and interestingly described in tha t collection of essays
called
Modern Palestine,
issued by the Hadassah Organizat ion
in 1933, and in the periodical statements issued in this country
by the American Fr iends of the Hebrew University.
Twenty-five years will have elapsed since the first mee t ing of
the Amer ican Jewish Congress. Many Amer ican Jews are still
concerned w i th the issues raised by tha t event. Essentially, it
symbolized Amer ican Jewry’s coming of age, for i t marked the
stirrings of commun i ty consciousness bo rn of the responsibilities
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