Page 72 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

Basic HTML Version

The American Jew.
E d i t e d b y O s c a r
I.
J a n o w s k y .
New York.
H a r p e r & B r o t h e r s .
The complexity of the Jewish psyche as well as the vast kaleidoscope of Jewish
chronicles and achievements will continue to challenge the powers of future histo-
rians.
The American Jew
will prove useful, if discriminatingly used, to Jews and
non-Jews who will consult it. The view of American Jewish life and activities
presented here begins with a compact prefatory treatment of the “Historical Back-
ground” by Oscar I. Janowsky, Associate Professor of History at the College of
the City of New York. Incidentally the same writer’s “Conclusion” must be read
to effect a reconciliation or evaluation of different points of view expressed by
diverse contributors. Although many of those invited to deal with selected topics
belong to Hadassah’s Advisory Committee on Education and, therefore, may be
presumed to have a similar Jewish slant on controversial matters, there are distinct
clashes of opposing beliefs expressed in this volume. These are fitted into an
acceptable pattern by the editor.
Of the material presented the chapter on “Economic Trends” by Nathan Reich,
Assistant Professor of Economics at Hunter College, New York, is one of the most
lucidly objective studies included. I t explains the tendency of Jews to gravitate
toward cities and the logical results of this trend. The essay on “Anti-Semitism”
by Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein of K. A. M. Temple, Chicago, brings up to date the
record of this nightmare phenomenon in Jewish American experience. The author
indicates that the development of Palestine as a Jewish homeland is a primary
prerequisite for an approach to a cessation of Jewish woes from this malevolent
force. In connection with anti-Semitisim, the reader must not overlook Dr. George
N. Shuster’s exposition of “The Jewish Community and the Outside World.” As
a non-Jew who understands and sympathizes with Jews, the president of Hunter
College points out that Jewish experiences with prejudice are of a kind similar to
those of other immigrant minorities. His outlook is hopeful.
A special word of praise must go to Rabbi Milton Steinberg for his essay on
“ Current Philosophies of Jewish Life.” Although he stresses the importance and
value of Reconstructionism as a solution to the religious and social problems in
American Jewish life, he is fair in dealing with other accepted positions. Impor tant
as a contribution is Professor Horace Kallen’s treatment of “The National Being
and the Jewish Community.” He shows that democracy may be served by those
who do so “ freely and boldly as Jews.” There is no balm for the escapist.
— E
l ia s
L
i e b e r m a n
i n
Liberal Judaism
A Guide to the Prophets.
B y S i d n e y
B.
H o e n i g a n d S a m u e l
H.
R o s e n b e r g .
New York.
B l o c h P u b l i s h i n g
C o .
208
p a g e s .
$1.35.
The authors of this volume are correct when they say, “The Bible has given to
Judaism its form and substance, and to the world at large its religio-ethical ideals.”
In these times in particular, when these ideals are challenged by the Nazi-Fascist
neo-pagan forces, it is incumbent upon all of us to become better acquainted with
the teachings of the Bible. This volume aims to introduce the reader to one special
part of the Bible, the works of the Prophets. And it must be said that the authors
have succeeded, both in their approach and in their treatment of this important
feature of Biblical teaching.
Every prophetic book is analyzed as to authorship and historical setting. The
contents are summarized, and interesting comments and observations of the book
are noted. For the more serious students there is added, at the end of each chap-
ter, subjects for further study, as well as references to other works for more detailed
discussion of certain phases of the prophets’ work.. What is particularly commend-
able in this book is the fact that the authors have endeavored to present, in their
treatment of the subject, both the traditional and the scientific or critical views.
And these views are presented in a fair and scholarly manner.
This book will help the student, young and old, to get a fine appreciation of the
teachings of those spiritual giants of thousands of years ago, teachings for the
fulfillment of which the civilized world is yearning today.
— R
a b b i
I
s r a e l
H.
L
e v i n t h a l
i n
Brooklyn Jewish Center Review
— 62 —