Page 34 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 13

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
28
sight.” Trude Weiss-Rosmarin, in a chapter entitled “Toward a
Definition of the Jewish Genius” (
Jewish Survival
, New York,
Philosophical Library, 1949), holds that the
real
Jewish contri-
bution to civilization was not made by painters and sculptors but
is manifest only in the creative work of Jews rooted in and in-
spired by Judaism. Bernard Berenson claims that Israel through
the ages has manifested nothing essentially national in the plastic
arts
{Aesthetics and History
, New York, Pantheon Books, 1948).
On the other hand, H. Raphael Gold, author of “The Halakah
and Aesthetics” (in
Israel of Tomorrow
, edited by Leo Jung, New
York, Herald Square Press, 1946), reminds us that there was con-
cern for aesthetics in the Halakah, “Revulsion from the ugly”
being a Halakic principle: “Blame for the delay in Jewish pro-
ductivity must not be placed on the fetters of the Halakah, but
on the cramping walls of the ghetto. Once restrictions were re-
moved, Jewish artistic genius began to thrive.” Rachel Wisch-
nitzer also maintains that the Jew was restricted by history rather
than by religion (in “Judaism and Arts,” vol. 2,
The Jews
,
Their
History and Culture
, edited by Louis Finkelstein, New York,
Harper & Brothers, 1949). She sums up by saying: “The Jewish
artist, like the Jewish writer, addresses himself in our time to the
world, to all men. And it would appear that with art surrendering
its claim to divinity and exclusiveness, the fight is actually won —
for it was this claim to divinity which the Second Commandment
had fought.”