Page 65 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

Basic HTML Version

rising generation of Jewish students can hardly be disputed. The
main purpose of the work being properly served, it also became
the source-book for further inquiry and research and indirectly
influenced the progress of Jewish learning in America. I t further
stimulated the production of other encyclopedias, in Russian,
German and Hebrew. A Hebrew encyclopedia appeared in Amer-
ica soon after the publication of the
Jewish Encyclopedia.
Mr.
J. D. Eisenstein, a layman possessed of profound Jewish scholar-
ship and of indomitable courage and perseverance, published the
Ozar Israel
, in ten volumes, and this work soon found its way
wherever Jews lived. Its popularity was indicated by the fact
that it was soon out of print and a reprint was issued in recent
years. The German
Encyclopedia Judaica
, of which only ten
volumes out of the projected fifteen volumes appeared (1928-34),
and its accompanying Hebrew edition,
Eshkol
, of which only two
volumes appeared, were unfortunately interrupted by the rise
of Hitlerism. Both editors and a number of contributors fled from
Germany and eventually found their way to this country where
they established themselves. Many of these also became con-
tributors to the
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia.
Besides these larger undertakings, there appeared in German
a popular reference work,
Juedisches Lexicon
in five volumes;
Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopedia
in one volume, published in
London (1938), and several reference works of an encyclopedic
nature which appeared in Hebrew in Palestine. A one-volume
Encyclopedia of Jewish Knowledge
, under the editorship of the
late Jacob de Haas, appeared in this country (1934) and this has
served a most useful purpose in giving reliable information on
many subjects of interest, although necessarily in a sketchy form.
A Yiddish encyclopedia, launched in Paris (1931), is being con-
tinued in New York by the Central Yiddish Cultural Institute;
seven slender volumes have appeared so far.
Dr. Isaac Landman, an American rabbi and for many years
editor of
The American Hebrew
, conceived the idea many years
ago of issuing a Jewish encyclopedia that will furnish information
about Jews and Judaism not only to English speaking Jews but
also to inquiring Gentiles. His first thought was to acquire the
rights and to present an English version of the
Juedisches Lexicon
,
which appeared in 1927-30. However, he soon discovered that
this was not altogether feasible and decided on a new and original
production, utilizing only fragments of the
Juedisches Lexicon.
He succeeded in enlisting the aid of outstanding authorities in the
various branches of Jewish learning both here and abroad and
with most remarkable perserverance he secured the cooperation
of many Jewish leaders, foundations and institutions who aided
him in carrying his plans into execution. The first volume appeared
in 1939, and the subsequent volumes were issued in rapid sue-
cession.
The main advantage of this work over all its predecessors is
naturally the fact that it is the latest and therefore includes the
— 55 —