Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

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American scene. While Mr. Friedman has included a few of the better known
characters in this volume of essays, he has by and large confined himself to tales
of the little men, they whose apparently uneventful careers give us a significant
view of the times in which they lived.
Drawn against a broad background of American history, each sketch stands out
in full detail, offering an unusually penetrating insight into the human element of
which history is composed. Here is no recital of statistics, no development of
issues, real or imagined, but the human stuff which is all too often overlooked by
the professional historian. Esther Brandeau, who twisted all of Quebec officialdom
around her fingers, Emperor Norton, the grand half-wit, who proclaimed the dis-
solution of Congress, Isaac Mendez who stood up in court for his pieces of eight,
all help provide color and realism, and flesh and blood as it were, to the austere
skeleton of dry historical fact.
The reader learns that Newport, R. I., is the only city in the United States which
pays part of the salary of the local rabbi, as the result of a Touro trust fund; that
many a Campbell in America is descended from ancestors who were more familiar
with
talith
and
tfillin
than with bagpipes and kilts; that as far back as 1877 dis-
crimination against a Jew by a summer hotel became a national scandal and
cause
celebre.
The author wisely points out that anti-Semitism, in one form or another,
has always existed in America, and that the large scale immigration of Eastern
European Jews did not increase the prejudice. I t may seem more wide-spread
simply because there are more Jews to feel it, he declares.
We are reminded that Mordecai Manuel Noah planned the establishment of a
City of Refuge on Grand Island merely as a temporary home until the return to
Palestine could be arranged; that Judah Touro bequeathed £50,000 for the build-
ing of a hospital in Jerusalem; that Cotton Mather, who longed to convert every
Jew he heard of, was a Hebrew scholar of ability. The book makes entertaining
reading, and the reader may be assured of the authenticity and accuracy of the
accounts, for the author is a distinguished historian and painstaking research
worker. The American Jew knows little enough of the history of his people in this
country, and “Jewish Pioneers and Patriots” offers an unusual opportunity to
wander along little traveled paths of the past. I t is altogether a delightful book.
— C
a r l
A
l p e r t
i n
The New Palestine
The World, of Yesterday.
By
S t e f a n Z w e i g .
New
Y o r k
(1943).
T h e V i k i n g P r e s s ,
455 pages'.
This is a brilliantly written history of civilization covering the past sixty years.
“ Time gives the picture; I merely speak the words which accompany them,”
Zweig explained, placing himself in the humble role of a narrator at an illustrated
lecture.
The glory of old Vienna and also its shortcomings have hardly ever been de-
scribed as vividly as in Zweig’s book. Due credit is given to Viennese Jewry, of
which the Zweigs were worthy representatives: “They (the Jews) were the real
audience, they filled the theaters and concerts, they bought the books and the
pictures, they visited the exhibitions, they were the exponents and champions of
all that was new . . . Nine-tenths of what the world celebrated as Viennese culture
in the nineteenth century was promoted, nourished, or even created bv Viennese
Jews.”
And there are the masterly pen-portraits of his friends, filling possibly a fourth
of the book. I t was Theodore Herzl, feuilleton editor of the
Neue Freie Pressey
who opened the road to fame for the twenty-year-old college boy Zweig by accepting
one of his manuscripts for publication in that large daily paper: “ I t was as if
Napoleon had pinned the Knight’s Cross of the Legion of Honor upon a young
sergeant on the battlefield.” Zweig devoted many pages to describe the impression
the Zionist leader had made on him, and to record his conversations with Herzl.
I t was only in 1917 that he scored his outstanding success, when his pacifist
play,
Jeremiah
, was performed in Zurich while the guns were still thundering all
over Europe. Many critics regard it as Zweig’s masterpiece.
“ In choosing a Biblical theme”— Zweig commented —“ I had unknowingly
touched upon something that had remained unused in me up to that time: that
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