Page 52 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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The Jewish People
, it is a compilation of long, comprehensive
articles aiming at some degree of encyclopedic completeness. For
example, the articles on successive periods of Jewish history by
W. F. Albright, E. J . Bickerman, J. Goldin and C. Roth, are
intended to form “ the first compact history of the Jews written
by scholars specializing in the several fields.” (Prefatory Letter,
p. xiii.) In other articles, not only Hebrew and Yiddish, but
also Judeo-Arabic and Iranian Jewish literature are thoroughly
covered. Professor Finkelstein himself has contributed a lengthy
essay on the Jewish religion. While
The Jews
devotes less space
to sociology than does
The Jewish People
, it contains excellent
articles on anthropology and on demography (with the emphasis
on America). This work also is without an article on Zionism
and Israel. According to the preface, one was contemplated, but
it could not be satisfactorily completed because of the difficulties
of communicating with scholars in Israel at the time of publication.
We also miss articles on the history of the Jewish religion, espe­
cially in the Middle Ages, and on the history of the Jews in
eastern Europe. Scant attention is given to modern Jewish
political and social movements, which were chiefly European in
origin and character. There are, on the other hand, good studies
by S. C. Kohs and others, of Jewish community organization and
finances in the United States. The bibliographies are generally
excellent, and there are some illustrations and maps. A large
number of the contributors are associated with the Jewish The­
ological Seminary.
Like the
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
The Jews
purposes to
expound the universal values in Judaism to the non-Jewish as
well as to the Jewish reader, and to point up Jewish contributions
to civilization in general. This aim is obvious in the headings of
such chapters as “Judaism and the Democratic Ideal,” and “The
Influence of the Bible on English Literature.” But it is also
present, more subtly, in other articles, and this may account for
their occasional weakness.
Nevertheless, the furthering of the understanding of Judaism
is a legitimate aim; therefore, there is need for a work of this
sort. Many of the articles are valid contributions to such an
understanding and, at the same time, to scholarly knowledge.
A new edition of
The Jews
is promised in the near future, and it
will be most welcome if a more discriminating editing will eliminate
some of the weaknesses and fill in the gaps.
A new general encyclopedia in Hebrew, the
is in process of publication in Israel. In seven volumes
Jerusalem, Hevrah le-Hotsa’at Entsiklopediot, 19 49 -
v. 1 - .