Page 80 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
74
of Jewish population in Chicago required special attention. A
branch of the Cincinnati firm was established there under Charles’
management and under the name The Bloch Publishing and
Printing Company, Cincinnati and Chicago, “publishers of, im-
porters and dealers in Hebrew books and Jewish publications.
Jewish supplies of every description.” A Chicago edition of
The
Israelite
was also begun. A few years later, in 1891, the Chicago
branch embarked upon another venture: it began the publication
of the
Reform Advocate
, under the editorship of Emil G. Hirsch.
The business, indeed, expanded as a result of this move to Chicago;
but Chicago could not, in the nature of things, be more than a
stopover. The mid-19th־century expectation of a shift of the
Jewish population westward had not materialized. The center
of Jewish life continued to be New York, and a forward-looking
cultural enterprise had to be where life throbbed most vigorously.
Heeding his father’s advice, therefore, Charles Bloch in 1901
moved all the activities of the firm, those of Cincinnati as well
as those of Chicago, to New York where The Bloch Publishing
Company, proudly subtitling itself “The Jewish Book Concern,”
has ever since been the soul of the Jewish book trade.
It is difficult to estimate which of the two aspects of the busi-
ness exercised greater influence on Jewish life, the publishing or
the book selling. Other publishers had by this time entered the
Jewish field. There were publishers of Yiddish books and prayer
books. Commercial publishers, convinced that a Jewish market
existed, began producing books in almost every area of Jewish
letters. In time, scholarly institutions like the rabbinical schools
and organizations for supplying text books for Jewish schools
undertook the publication of volumes for their specific purposes
and viewpoints. The Jewish Publication Society had been issuing
popular and semi-popular works ever since its foundation in 1888.
Bloch’s nevertheless won for itself a distinctive place among
Jewish publishers both in the books which it accepted and those
which it initiated. For there have always been authors whose
books did not appeal to commercial publishers because they did
not give promise of immediate success or to idealistic publishers
because they did not correspond to their planned program. Such
authors went to Bloch, and for half a century the Bloch Pub-
lishing Company has acted as literary midwife for scholarly, semi-
scholarly and popular books which ended by exerting a consider-
able influence on the development of Jewish life in the United
States. In many cases the authors participated in the cost of
publication, but the greater risk usually still remained that of
the publisher who frequently permitted his interest in Jewish
life to overbalance his business judgment.