Page 122 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 16

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P H I L I P L. S E M A N
1881-1957
By
J
u s t i n
G.
T
u r n e r
O
NLY once in a generation is one apt to meet a gentle per-
sonality and a profound human being like Dr. Philip
Seman, whose love for his fellow man and fellow Jew was all-
encompassing. He was truly versatile—educator, sociologist, bib-
liophile, historian and lecturer. After serving as Director of the
Jewish People’s Institute of Chicago for more than thirty years,
he retired and moved to Los Angeles. Tha t city, experiencing
its greatest Jewish growth at that time and now the second largest
Jewish community in the world with 400,000 Jews, needed a
man of Dr. Seman’s commanding stature and invincible pioneer-
ing spirit. He was soon actively identified with many of its
cultural, educational and civic institutions, and by virtue of his
broad experience and lofty vision, served as the catalyst who
caused a monument to Jewish culture and scholarship to be
built in the growing Western community. In so doing, he erected
his own monument as well.
Dr. Seman’s library, from which a large portion of his social
science collection was presented to the University of Judaism
after his death, was a model of discrimination and good taste.
While his major interest lay in the social sciences, to which he
had devoted a great part of his life, his love for books extended
to manifold fields—philosophy, psychology, anthropology, educa-
tion, history, the classics and belletristic works in general. Nat-
urally, books dealing with group work and inter-cultural relations
occupied many well-stocked shelves. Invaluable are the bound
volumes from 1915 through 1929 of
The Playground,
which re-
veal his deep concern for the social welfare of the young. Titles
like
Wh i te House Conference on Chi ld Heal th and Protect ion
and
The Social Worker in Chi ld Care and Protect ion
confirm
that paramount interest. There are also Dr. Seman’s own con-
tributions in this area when, as Director of the Jewish People’s
Institute, he published, among other works,
Commun i ty Cul ture
in an Era of Depression, Training for Social Expression, Social
Orientat ion, A Program in Commun i ty Cul ture
and
Vision and
Experiment in Communi ty Service.
Limitation of •space pre-
eludes listing a bibliography of his literary contributions to a
multitude of periodicals, digests and professional journals.
The books in Dr. Seman’s library were not merely ornamental
collections. They were painstakingly read, and with a pencil.
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