Page 73 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

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The Odyssey of a Faith.
B y B e r n a r d H e l l e r .
New York.
H a r p e r
a n d B r o t h e r s
(1942).
Rabbi Heller uses the Hellenic word
Odyssey
in the title he gives to a volume of
Hebraic content. He describes the long pilgrimage of Judaism from its ancient
beginnings to modern times, emphasizing the experiences its chief personalities
have symbolized, particularly in epochs of crisis and conflict. Let others write
of the Jewish people, and of the Jewish cult; Rabbi Heller devotes himself to the
chronicles of the Jewish religion and their interpretation. The result is a volume
replete with sound and reliable scholarship; a record which is readable and graphic;
a story that is stimulating and provocative. The vivid quality of Rabbi Heller’s
style can be seen in some of the chapter headings: “A Luther in the Jewish Camp,”
namely, Anan ben David, the founder of Karaism; “Fundamentalists on the
Warpath,” dealing with the opponents of Moses and Maimonides; “Zionism
versus Sinaism,” setting up an antithesis, which seems to this reviewer irrelevant,
between Jewish nationalism and Jewish religionism.
I t must not be thought that Rabbi Heller is lacking in appreciation for the
Zionist movement, for in its opening chapter, “The Nomad Turns Farmer,” he
concludes with a word of approval for the Jewish National Fund as a direct out-
growth of Biblical and Rabbinic tradition.
Rabbi Heller has not failed to fortify his thesis with a convincing armament of
illustrations drawn from all fields of Jewish literature and experience. His notes
are a store-house of information. He has brought to bear his meditation as a philo-
sopher, his practical observation as an educator, and his equipment as a man of
sympathy and understanding to give both non-Jew and Jew a volume which
merits the closest scrutiny and the warmest admiration.
— Louis
I . N
e w m a n
i n
Jewish Social Studies
Brandeis on Zionizm.
Washington, D. C. (1942).
Z i o n i s t O r g a n i -
z a t i o n o f A m e r i c a .
This little book answers lucidly three fundamental questions of supreme im-
portance to every American Jew: What is true Americanism? What is Zionism?
Is there a conflict between the two? Not only is there no possible conflict, answers
the great American Justice, but there is a positive synthesis. •Brandeis’ reasoning,
as always, is compact with thought and grounded on the bedrock of facts and
actualities. The true ideals of America, Brandeis demonstrates, are those which
the Jews themselves anciently developed and kept alive during the long ages of
persecution. Demoralization, however, has set in among us under the pressures
of a false assimilationist philosophy. This danger can best be met and overcome,
as experience has proved everywhere, by a strengthening of our self-respect as
Jews and “only through the ennobling effect” of our strivings on behalf of a Jewish
Palestine “ can we develop the best that is in us and give to this country (America)
the full benefit of our great inheritance.”
In Palestine alone, continues Brandeis, “can Jewish life be fully protected from
the forces of disintegration” and “ the Jewish spirit reach its full and natural de-
velopment,” in view of the countervailing realities existing everywhere else to a
greater or less degree. The flourishing of the Jewish spirit in Palestine is bound to
benefit all Jews everywhere, including America. Thus alone can the age-old Jewish
problem be solved. Brandeis particularizes this problem as posing the question:
“How can we secure for the world the full contribution which Jews can make if
unhampered by artificial limitations?” His answer is: by the reconstitution of the
Jewish national home in Palestine.
Brandeis’ Zionism, it should be noted, is anything but chauvinistic. On the
contrary it fully accords with a universalism embracing all mankind — one which
realistically takes count of the existence and persistence in the world, and, withal,
the desirability of the continuing persistence of different peoples or
nationalities
not the same as
nations
— each of which should develop and contribute its distinc-
tive best to the common pool of civilization. The Jews are a nationality which
has made invaluable contributions to the world in the past and can do so again in
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