Page 69 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

Basic HTML Version

Italian scholar; for even in the secular writings of such men, the lyric grandeur
and sonority of the Hebrew legends and biblical songs are an ever recurring in-
fluence. Sometimes, the memoir is lit with the strange hues, the brilliant pageantry
of ancient court life in the myriad lands of dispersion. Most often the narrative
is sown with the sorrowful echoes of a wandering tradition. Don Isaac Abravanel,
statesman to the kings of fifteenth-century Portugal, Spain, Naples, received exile
as his reward for faithful ministry, and witnessed the dark expulsion of Spanish
Jewry in 1492. Moses Maimonides, one of the great humanitarian figures of
medieval times, was a refugee from Spain at the age of 13. Solomon Molko, a
colorful disciple of the Marrano sect, follower of the meteoric David Reubeni, the
kabbalistic “messiah” of 16th-century Spain, was executed by the Inquisition
after a maccabean career in a war-infested world. “Memoirs of Daniel Mendoza”
the Portuguese-English prizefighter of the 18th century; the journals of that
daring mystic Abraham Aboulafia, who attempted to convert the Pope to Judaism;
the “Tagebiicher of Theodor Herzl” , and a wealth of variegated records dating
from earliest known sources down to contemporary times . . . these are the gifts
of the latest “caravan” by Leo Schwartz.
“Memoirs of My People” is a tribute to the magnificent endurance of the Jewish
spirit which, despite a tradition linked repeatedly to tragedy, has continued to
nurture and to perpetuate the miracle of human wisdom and a tireless trust in the
God of Abraham. I t is at once a warmly personal revelation of the Jewish heart
in many epochs and many climates; a demonstration that the personal life of the
Jew is never completely divorced from the destiny of all Jewry or, in a deeper sense,
of all men everywhere.
— M
i l d r e d
B
a r i s h
in
Opinion
Overcoming Anti-Semitism.
By
S o l o m o n ־
A n d h i l F i n e b e r g .
New York,
H a r p e r .
224
p p .
The title aptly orientates the reader and delineates the problem. The book is
addressed primarily but not exclusively to the Jew and deals with specific measures,
not with generalities. What is said is itself the result of the author’s discussions
with the leaders — and the rank-and-file — in Jewish communities in no less than
two hundred cities. The message of the book is to the “healthy-minded Jews who
will not quail to the verge of a neurosis because of nasty slurs by an occasional
warped individual.” The aim is to help all to “put this problem in (its) proper
perspective, and view it sanely with an eye to curing i t ;” and in general to help
Jews get “ a clear perspective and a correct attitude in reference to anti-Semitism,
to know what it is, how it operates, and especially how its encroachments can be
halted.” The major part of the book is thus given to methods of dealing practically
with the problem. To fight on the defensive will at times be necessary, but here
as in warfare the offensive is also both necessary and wise.
A section describes “ the role of the anti-Semite”— words the reviewer would
have all non-Jews read and take to heart. The chief chapter deals with “what can
be done”— a veritable arsenal of weapons of all varied kinds, establishing friend-
ships and following the good neighbor policy while maintaining a full measure of
self-respect, overcoming misconceptions, resistance to rumors, etc. A concluding
chapter on civic protective agencies tells what these are and how they foster
friendly co-operation among Jewish, non-sectarian and Christian groups. In
conclusion, there is almost nothing this reviewer can find about this book to crit-
icize. The tone is admirable, the measures advocated seem eminently wise. The
chief reactions that have come to the reviewer are, on the one hand, man’s in-
excusable inhumanity to man and, on the other, the fine spirit here shown in facing
that part of this inhumanity which appears in American anti-Semitism.
— W
i l l i am
H
e a r d
K
i l p a t r i c k
i n
Contemporary Jewish Record
Jewish Pioneers and Patriots.
By
L e e
M.
F r i e d m a n .
Philadelphia
J e w i s h P u b l i c a t i o n S o c i e t y o f A m e r i c a . 430 p p .
The usual history of the Jews in America is little more than a listing of out-
standing individuals who have won positions of honor and prominence on the
— 59 —