Page 51 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 10 (1951-1952)

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pronounced dead beyond hope of resurrection, would soon arise
from the dead, would put on new flesh, and would show increasing
symptoms of renewed vitality.
Twenty years before Herzl, the English novelist sensed the
coming of a new dawn that would follow the long night of Israel’s
exile. In
־Daniel Deronda
, she proclaimed her faith in the future of
Jews as Jews, as a separate political entity, as a rejuvenated na-
tion, as a historic fellowship returning from England and from all
other lands of the Diaspora to its homeland Palestine. Five
years before Pinsker’s
, this non-Jewess preached
self-emancipation for the Jews. “What is needed is the leaven —
what is needed is the seed of fire. The heritage of Israel is beating
in the pulses of millions; it lives in their veins as a power without
understanding, like the morning exultation of herds . . . Let the
torch of visible community be lit! Let the reason of Israel disclose
itself in a great outward deed, and let there be another great migra-
tion, another choosing of Israel to be a nationality whose members
may still stretch to the ends of the earth, even as the sons of
England and Germany, whom enterprise carries afar, but who
still have a national hearth and a tribunal of national opinion.”
Sceptics among English Jews and non-Jews asserted that this
dream was incapable of practical fulfilment, that it was founded on
historic memories and vague longings far removed from contem-
porary realities. George Eliot replied by calling attention to the
example of the United States, a new political grouping formed in
modern times by individuals from many lands who were animated
primarily by common memories and ideals. “How long is it? —
only two centuries since a vessel carried over the ocean the
beginning of the great North American nation. The people grew
like meeting waters — there came a time, a century ago, when
they needed a polity, and there were heroes of peace among them.
What had they to form a polity with but memories of Europe,
corrected by the vision of a better?” The Jews too have the
memories of the East and W7est, they have experiences gathered
from the life of the ages, they have a precious inheritance that
never ceased to quiver in millions of them, they can build “a new
Judea, poised between East and West — a covenant of reconcilia-
tion.” The Jews merely had to will strongly and their dream of
new nationhood could be realized. “The strongest principle of
growth lies in human choice. The sons of Judah have to choose
that God may again choose them. The Messianic time is the time
when Israel shall will the planting of the national ensign.”
Daniel Deronda
, upon its publication in 1876, shocked Jewish
opinion in England because of its uncompromising advocacy of