Page 35 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 13

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THE DROPSIE COLLEGE AND ITS CONTRIBUTIONS
TO JEWISH LITERATURE
By
M
o r t im e r
J.
C
o h e n
T
HE Dropsie College will in 1957 commemorate the fiftieth
anniversary of its founding. Its founder was Moses Aaron
Dropsie, after whom the College was named. His will stated its
purpose to be “a college for the promotion of and instruction in the
Hebrew and cognate languages and their respective literatures and
in the Rabbinical learning and literature.” Dr. Cyrus Adler was
president of the College until his death in 1940. Dr. Abraham A.
Neuman was elected president in 1941.
As institutions of higher learning go, the College is not large
in student body, alumni or faculty. I t occupies, however, a unique
place in Jewish cultural life. Its influence is widespread through
the scholars it has trained, the leaders it has given to Jewish
communities in the United States, Israel and other countries, and
through the literary contributions its students, alumni and faculty
have made to Jewish scholarship.
The Dropsie College is not a theological institution. Herein
may be found the root of its uniqueness. Separated from theo-
logical entanglements, the College has enjoyed untrammeled free-
dom from the restraints that theological ideologies necessarily
impose. I t is pledged to the pursuit of truth wholeheartedly, no
matter to what place or in what direction it may lead the scholar.
Before Dr. Neuman became President of the College, the
College consisted of departments in Bible and Rabbinics, the
Cognate Languages, and Jewish History. Since his coming and
in response to the critical situation that followed World War II ,
with its devastating effects on the state of scholarship in the
ancient European centers, the College established a number of
new departments — Jewish Philosophy and Hebrew Literature,
the History of Semitic Civilization, Assyriology and Egyptology,
Comparative Religion, the School of Jewish Education, and most
recently the Institute for Israel and the Middle East.
The Dropsie College, though small in numbers both of student
body and faculty, has been industriously adding to our knowledge
of the cultures of the ancient world and, in more recent years, has
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