Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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BLOCH — AMERICAN JEWISH LITERATURE
21
a few of them were men whose names shine in the annals of
modern Jewish learning. Due to their efforts, the turn of the
century witnessed an intensified American interest in all branches
of Jewish literary creativity and especially in the advancement of
Jewish learning in this country.
The works discussed below represent but a small number of
titles of a large ou tpu t of meritorious publications. Though
selected at random, these are representative examples of durable
value; a few, though obsolete, are nevertheless of historic value,
for they served as mileposts in the development of Jewish lore
and learning in this country. Though replaced by more recent
books, they nevertheless contributed immensely to the arousing
of interest in Jewish knowledge. Moreover, they stimulated
further growth in American Jewish literature and learning.
American Jewry can point with pride to the fact th a t at the
beginning of the present century it gave to the world what is no
doubt the greatest achievement of modern Jewish learning —
The
Jewish Encyclopedia
(New York 1901-1905), a work in twelve
sumptuous volumes, profusely illustrated and compactly printed.
I t incorporates a tremendous amount of information on every
phase of Jewish life, literature, lore and learning, brought together
by competent hands and presented authoritatively. Leading schol-
ars, Jews and non-Jews, all over the world shared in its making.
Each of its editors and contributors represented a writer or a
scholar whose specialty in a given field was widely recognized.
Virtually all the major articles represented veritable monographs
by specialists. Even though half a century has gone by since its
publication, it is still an indispensable work of reference to which
one may turn with confidence. Although some articles now need
revision and enlargement and others are obsolete, the work as a
whole has not been superseded by any work of a similar nature
in any other language. Virtually all subsequent attempts at
similar undertakings in other lands and languages were dependent
upon its contents. I t is a monumental contribution to the sys-
tematic presentation of Jewish knowledge, which American Jewish
generosity and scholarship made possible.
The Jewish Encyclopedia
set the pattern for similar Jewish
reference works issued in this country and abroad. Within a
decade, there appeared a Russian Jewish encyclopedia,
Yevreiskaia
Encyclopedia
(St. Petersburg, 1908-1912) which incorporated
translations of several hundred leading articles from
The Jewish
Encyclopedia.
In a like manner, Judah David Eisenstein, aided
by other scholars, was able to present in Hebrew
Ozar Yisrael
,
a useful reference work in ten volumes (New York, 1907-1913),