Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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GRAYZEL — HUNDRED YEARS OF BLOCH PUBLISHING
73
has been Jewish experience in this country at all times. The need
for prayer books was especially great among the growing number
of Jewish immigrants from Germany and German-speaking Bohe-
mia and Hungary, who settled in the new cities of the Middle
West and needed basic books for the observance of Judaism.
This same population, coming from a milieu in which the question
of religious reform had been actively agitated, were responsive
to a continuation of this discussion in their new home.
The first publications of Bloch and Company reflected these
needs.
The American Israelite
was a weekly in English and had
Die Deborah
as its counterpart in German. In 1857, Bloch pub-
lished Wise’s prayer book,
Minhag Amerika;
but this did not
prevent him from publishing also quite orthodox
siddurim
and
mahzorim
, as well as
Hymns
,
Psalms and Prayers
in English and
German. It is understandable that Bloch should have acted as
publisher for Wise, among such publications being
The Essence
of Judaism
(1861) and
The Combat of the People
,
or Hillel and
Herod
, subtitled “A Historical Romance of the Time of Herod I”
(1859); but he also published such learned works as M. Mielziner’s
The Jewish Law on Marriage and Divorce
(1884) and his
Introduction to the Talmud
(1894). Towards the end of the 1870s,
the rabbis of Reform tendency organized themselves into a Rab-
binical Literary Association, the forerunner of the Central Con-
ference of American Rabbis, the results of whose meetings,
especially the learned papers and addresses presented at the
meetings, began to be issued in 1880 under the title,
The Hebrew
Review.
This, too, was published by Bloch and Company.
Attempts were made, almost from the beginning, to provide
popular literature. Interesting because of its timeliness was an
item of the year 1860, entitled
Mortara
,
or the Pope and his In-
quisition
, advertised as “a drama together with choice poems,”
by H. M. Moos. A little play published about the same time is a
curiosity because of its author rather than the subject. Its heroine
is Queen Esther and its author Julius Ochs of Chattanooga, father
of Adolph S. Ochs, later of
The New York Times.
In 1873, Bloch
and Company began the publication, under the editorship of
Isidor Wise, of
The Sabbath Visitor
, a monthly for children,
offering stories, letters and good advice generally for young
Israelites. In 1893, after an interval during which David Philip-
son (then a young rabbi) took charge of it, the monthly was taken
over by Charles E. Bloch, son of the founder, now already estab-
lished in Chicago.
Charles E. Bloch, born in 1861, entered the business in 1878.
By 1885, it became evident that the large and growing center