Page 108 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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e w i s h
o o k
n n u a l
be merely a Jew without the Zionist qualification. To be a Zion-
ist for him means to be a nationalist Jew. Back of the Congress,
dominating the Russian-Jewish problem, transcending any sec-
tional interpretation of Judaism by the Jewries of this or that
part of the world, looms the universal Jewish question in its awful
insistence. When it is divested of its economic, philanthropic and
political swathings it stands revealed as the stern question of
to be or not to be. Not so much because the existence of the
Jew is threatened by the excesses of barbarity, as that the existence
of Judaism is threatened by the excess of alien civilizations.
Looked at under the visual angle of the Zionist, this Jewish
question, whether it trouble the freest of American Jews or the
down-trodden Jew of the Slavic East, hinges upon the Jews’
attitude toward nationalism.” And the proud, dedicated Jewess
epitomized her stirring and original argument for Jewish spiritual
and practical nationalism with: “My appeal is to him who
believes that the highest interests of humanity will be served by
the preservation of the Jews as the exponent of Judaism . . .
Zionism is the practical shape Jewish nationalism takes . . . ”
Louis Lipsky, in his
A Gallery of Zionist Profiles
—the notable
exception to the rule of Zionist literature’s neglect of Henrietta
Szold —did a miniature portrait of her which is exquisitely per-
ceptive and revealing. But his statement: “she was not the
conventional Zionist leader — the orator on the platform, the
ready writer on Zionist themes, a controversialist in the ‘general’
debate,” is inaccurate. She was certainly not the “conventional”
Zionist, as the above quoted paper alone makes perfectly plain.
But she did repeatedly write and speak on Zionist and con-
troversial themes; and her quiet eloquence and the forceful
elegance of her prose were very persuasive. That she addressed
and moved women more often than men makes her writing
none the less important, except to a misogynistic Zionist.
A Wri ter of Extraordinary Talent
For Henrietta Szold was a fine and gifted writer who demon-
strated her extraordinary talent in countless papers she wrote—
not only on Zionism, but also on subjects of general Jewish
interest: biographical, historical, and literary, and in a number
of pieces of special interest to her sex, from “The Education of
the Jewish Girl” to “What Our Grandmothers Read” — the
former a remarkably “progressive” approach to education, the
latter a delightful, gently humorous study of the “Weiberteutsch”
books. All this writing was done while she was performing
Herculean tasks for the Jewish Publication Society —preparing
the invaluable index for Graetz’s
H istory of T h e Jews,
American Jewish Year Book,
translating and making avail-
able in English many volumes of Jewish scholarship: Lazarus’