Page 64 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 14

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
54
The Renegade
(1942) is a record of the life of Joshua Vidal, which
begins in Europe and ends in America. I t concerns itself with three
generations of a family that includes among its marriages one
with a Gentile lady who becomes more Jewish than Sarah herself.
This book is perhaps the most wholesome of all of Lewisohn’s
works and shows an integrated personality and philosophy no
longer at odds and ends. I t is a portrait of “American” Jewish
life and of love, and how far the former can be embodied into the
general culture.
At this time Lewisohn began a series of translations for the
Jewish Publication Society of America. In 1945 he did Martin
Buber’s
For the Sake of Heaven,
a religious novel portraying Hasidic
life and expounding the
Weltanschauung
of some of its leaders. In
1946 he translated Selma Stern’s
The Spirit Returneth
, and, one
year later, Soma Morgenstern’s
In My Father s Pastures
, a fine
picture of Jewish life in eastern Europe. In 1952 he rendered into
English Max Brod’s
Unambo
, a tale of the war in Israel. His most
recent efforts include
Theodor Herzl: A Portraitfo r This Age
, with
an introduction and selections from the writings of the founder of
the World Zionist Organization. Lewisohn is at his emotional and
literary best when he writes about Zionism. Earlier in life he had
published a sheaf of articles on the movement so dear to him,
probably because its philosophy represented a spiritual home to
which the homeless exile had returned and had found a warm
welcome. He writes glowingly and understandingly about Herzl.
In 1954 Hillel Little Books issued his
What Is the Jewish Heritage
,
a rhapsody on Jewish religio-nationalism with mystic overtones,
particularly in the nationalistic aspects of Judaism. Despite its
sometimes questionable theology, this little essay answers with
positiveness and skill the questions it poses. With advancing
years his Jewish fervor became heightened, reaching at times a
state of almost ferocious chauvinism. Yet we need such advocates
to counter the all too many tepid and negative Jews among us.
Lewisohn roused many smug Jews from their lethargy. His fire
kindled a spark in many a soul that otherwise would have re-
mained in darkness. His stentorian cry compelled the unhearing
to listen, to take notice, and to respond to his challenge that they
become affirmative Jews.
During his last years Lewisohn was professor of literature at
Brandeis University. Here he taught successfully, and amid its
surroundings he was comparatively happy. Here he could indulge
his Jewish hobbies: collecting ceremonial objects, lecturing and
writing to Jews about Judaism, and studying Bible and Rabbinics.
Two weeks before his death, he finished a preface for his transla-
tion of Jacob Picard’s
Der Gezeichnete
, to be published by the