Page 117 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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103
B
erger
— J
o s h u a
B
loch
put up a strong defense through adequate Jewish education.
He was even more excited about the other article which dealt
with “the lack of Jewish leadership.” Dr. Bloch always wanted
to be the journalist who would attack the abuses, mismanage-
ment and lack of imagination in public office and in communal
life. Now that he had retired, he would be free to raise his
voice.
It was the eve of Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Judgment. He
still had to work at his sermon on Jonah the prophet. He was
also reviewing a recent Hebrew work by Ben Zion Katz on
Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots, and the life work of Alter
Drujanoff, whose lucid style and sure fire he admired.
Yes, he had many irons in the fire that day. He spent a number
of hours at these chores and then went out into the corridor for
a breather. I was at the card catalog and he caught my eye. Half
a million cards in a third of a century of work, he must have
thought. At least I thought so for him and for myself, and I
suggested that he join me for a coffee break, knowing he was
always ready to be interrupted for this “vice.” I asked him about
his progress in his edition of the Ezra Apocalypse which he had
undertaken because of his interest in Syriac in which the book
is also extant. While translating it, he became involved in the
substance of the book, its authorship and the idea of the
Covenant which permeates it. Certainly, I thought, the climate
of the Ezra Apocalypse was fitting on that day; in the synagogues
they were to recite “Remember the Covenant.” He gave a direct
answer to my question: he had just sent an article on some
problem of IV
Ezra
to the
Harvard Theological Review.
We went down the winding staircase, past the glass cases where
he had spent many an hour planning exhibitions, past the guards
who greeted us, and soon found ourselves at one of our favorite
coffee shops. Dr. Bloch knew most of the employees. We sat
down at the counter, to be served by one of his favorite waitresses
who knew him as Doc and me as his occasional companion. Dr.
Bloch inquired about her son who, thanks to his interest, had
been accepted at a junior college. The waitress was appreciative,
and he knew it. For while he carried the crowns of scholarship,
of the ministry and of administration, he appreciated the crown
of a good name above all else.
The coffee stimulated us on that cool, crisp day. I listened
while he told me about his further work—the new articles he
planned and his idea of launching under our joint editorship
a revival of his
Journal of Jewish Bibl iography.
I looked at him.
He had apparently lost weight and his eyes were somewhat dim
and bloodshot. His face looked pale to me; his energy, however,
seemed boundless. His voice was firm. He had been worried
about his memory, he said, but it now seemed better. He couldn’t
afford to see it diminished; he couldn’t afford to be absent-
minded: “I have lots of things to do.”