Page 78 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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A HUNDRED YEARS OF THE BLOCH
PUBLISHING COMPANY
By
S
olomon
G
ray z e l
C
HIEF credit for the establishment of the Bloch Publishing
Company should probably go to the imaginative and inde-
fatigable Isaac M. Wise, though its growth and achievements
were due undoubtedly to the energy and ability of Edward Bloch.
The latter had been a member of the Wise household ever since
these two brothers-in-law had come over from Bohemia to the
United States, Bloch being then about sixteen years old. Isaac
M. Wise had always been eager to address a nation-wide audience
and had frequently contributed to various Jewish periodicals,
especially
The Occident.
In Cincinnati, where he moved in 1854,
he would clearly be at a disadvantage in this respect. He therefore
took steps during the very first month of his stay in the Middle
West to establish a newspaper. His young brother-in-law, who
had worked in a printing establishment in Albany and was seeking
a similar job in the new home to which he had accompanied
Wise, was available for the venture. Thus was founded Bloch
and Company, Publishers and Printers, which was destined for
an important career.
That the venture proved immediately successful not only speaks
well for Bloch’s business acumen, but also proves that the Amer-
ican Jewish community was ready for and in need of basic
material for Jewish life and thought. Isaac Leeser, to be sure, had
been trying his hand at similar publication activity — editing,
translating, revising and publishing. But Leeser failed, perhaps
because he was a poorer businessman than Bloch and less dramatic
than Wise in both thought and action. Nor did he have the
financial backing and enterprise that such a venture demanded.
His own translation of the Bible was published by the new firm.
Besides, Leeser, his mentality colored by his experience with a
native American congregation, failed to recognize the desirability
of publishing in the German language. Wise and Bloch were
closer to the realities of the situation. They not only published
in several languages, but became printers and distributors in
addition to being publishers. Moreover, when books failed to
bring a profit, prayer books served to balance the account — such
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